Reiki is a form of alternative medicine developed in 1922 by Japanese Buddhist Mikao Usui. Since its beginning in Japan, Reiki has been adapted across varying cultural traditions. It uses a technique commonly called palm healing or hands-on-healing. Through the use of this technique, practitioners believe that they are transferring “universal energy” through the palms of the practitioner, which they believe encourages healing.

Basis and effectiveness

The existence of the proposed mechanism for Reiki – qi or “life force” energy – has not been established. Most research on Reiki is poorly designed and prone to bias. There is no reliable empirical evidence that Reiki is helpful for treating any medical condition, although some physicians have said it might help promote general wellbeing. In 2011, William T. Jarvis of The National Council Against Health Fraud stated that there “is no evidence that clinical reiki’s effects are due to anything other than suggestion” or the placebo effect.

Reiki’s teachings and adherents claim that qi is physiological and can be manipulated to treat a disease or condition. The existence of qi has not been established by medical research. As a result, Reiki is a pseudoscientific theory based on metaphysical concepts.