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The Science Behind Reiki

Author: Dr. Sarah Cavrak

Date: Oct 5, 2023

There really IS science behind the Reiki practice. And that’s great news because as a trained Reiki Master it is so genuinely challenging to try to put words to “energy healing” and leave the listener with more answers than questions (and raised eyebrows.)

Let’s begin with the obvious benefits. The research shows that a even a single Reiki session…

  • Eases symptoms of various emotional challenges (e.g., depression, anxiety)

  • Supports the treatment of chronic physical conditions (e.g., pain)

  • Alleviates stress, and boosts both relaxation and self-esteem (to name a few)

[Note: There is also some anecdotal evidence that consistent Reiki, in the long term, has the potential to treat some major medical diagnoses (e.g., cancers); however, the research has not yet shown empirical evidence of this. That does not mean it’s not happening, but there’s no valid or reliable data (yet) that has provided evidence for this causal relationship.]

Of course, the biggest question on most people’s minds is not, “What can Reiki do for me?” Anyone who has experienced a session knows how good they feel when they leave their practitioner’s table.

Instead, the question everyone wants to know is, “How does it work?”

Reiki healing is a three-part process. First, research has shown that Reiki accomplishes much of its healing through the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system (one of the two parts of your autonomic nervous system). The parasympathetic is responsible for carrying out automatic bodily processes (e.g., mood control, immune response, heartrate, breathing, digestion, elimination, sexual function). Whereas the sympathetic nervous system is responsible for alerting us to danger and is the internal driver behind the fight-and-flight response.

Parasympathetic activation is critical for physical relaxation to take place, and physical relaxation is essential for healing and restoration to commence. Scientists and researchers have measured the rate of change in physiological responses (like, heartrate, sweatrate, and breathing rhythm) when receiving Reiki healing (versus a placebo), and in doing so have found evidence that when Reiki is applied there are significant changes in these physical metrics.

But this still begs the question, “How does the movement of hands over the body ‘activate’ the parasympathetic nervous system in order to impact and heal the body?” And the answer is… through the biofield.

Scientists have long known that the heart produces an electromagnetic field that is measurable. And it turns out that the entire body has an electromagnetic field, which has been names the “biofield.” So the Reiki practitioner moves their hands on and above a client’s body to connect with their biofield, and that connection in turn produces a reaction or response in the parasympethic nervous system which then leads to physiological changes in the body producing the calming and healing effects, reported empirically and anecdotally.


If you're curious about what Reiki can do for you, then head HERE to learn about what my own client's have reported after receiving a healing session.

To take your healing to the next level, then head HERE to book a 1:1 session (virtual and in-person options available).



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