Objective: The physiological status of energy healers during self-practice (activating the healing state without the presence of a recipient) has rarely been examined. This study assessed self practice-related changes in autonomic nervous system (ANS) activity in Reiki Masters and advanced Reconnective Healers.
Design: Measurements of heart rate (HR), heart rate variability (HRV) and cutaneous blood perfusion of the fingers, of 31 Reiki masters and 50 experienced Reconnective Healers were made before, during and after self-practice. Corresponding measurements were made on 32 control subjects, who gazed at a calming picture in place of self-practice.
Setting: Experiments were conducted in a laboratory setting.
Results: During self-practice by Reconnective Healers, the average HR did not change significantly compared to control subjects but the average HRV and the root mean square of successive differences in inter-beat interval (RMSSD) decreased by 11ms (95% CI 0.6, 4.6, p=0.009) and 13ms (95% CI 0.2, 4.1, p=0.031) more than in control subjects, respectively, indicating reduced parasympathetic nervous activity. Reiki Masters showed no significant change in HR, HRV or RMSSD compared to control subjects. Cutaneous blood perfusion increased during self-practice relative to control subjects in both Reconnective Healers (6.5%; p=0.012) and Reiki Masters (13.7%; p<0.001).
Conclusion: Contrary to expectations, neither Reconnective Healers nor Reiki practitioners appear to enter a more physiologically relaxed state during self-practice although there is a local peripheral vasodilatation that is probably mediated by humoral agents.
Published by Elsevier Ltd.