The Disadvantages of Reiki

Reiki is a Japanese healing art that seeks to restore the patient's energetic flow through the placement of hands. A Reiki practitioner has trained in accessing powerful, healing energy, called Reiki energy, and seeks to trigger a healing response in the patient's own body. Within the realm of western medicine, Reiki forms part of many complementary and alternative medicine centers. Patients may use it in tandem with traditional western health care or solely. Before getting Reiki treatments, consult with your primary health care provider and weigh the modality's advantages against its disadvantages.

Reiki uses healing touch to restore a healthy energetic balance. (Image: kzenon/iStock/Getty Images)

No Formal Regulation

Because Reiki largely works outside the paradigm of western medicine and science, its practice is not regulated in the United States. Practitioners of Reiki receive no officially recognized certification or licensing. However, according to the principles of the art, one must learn from a master and receive a direct transmission, or "attunement," from this master. One disadvantage of seeking Reiki treatment, then, is the varied skill levels among practitioners. If you do seek treatment, be discerning in whom you consult. Inquire how long they have been practicing and what level of training they have completed. Practitioners typically undergo three levels of training, culminating in a master-level attunement.

Limited Scientific Support

If you prefer to seek treatments based in western medicine and scientific experimentation, Reiki will offer you little assurance of its effectiveness. Many major hospitals and medical centers, including Columbia University Medical Center, have Reiki practitioners within their complementary care units. However, fairly little scientific proof can explain the healing art. A trial published in the 2008 "Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine" failed to demonstrate a connection between Reiki treatments and relief from fibromyalgia. As the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine explains, relatively little funding is available for research into complementary and alternative treatments, as pharmeceutical companies often indirectly fund the research done on medical treatment.

Limited Insurance Coverage

As a practical consideration, check whether your insurance company provides coverage for alternative and complementary medicine before seeking Reiki treatment. If you are interested in the modality but cannot meet the costs, shop around for another insurance company which offers more extensive coverage of complementary and alternative therapies. In some cases, insurers cover treatment if you seek Reiki treatment to relieve pain or symptoms of a serious illness.

Individual Variation

Even if you have a reliable, first-hand testimony to the effectiveness of Reiki in curing an ailment similar to your own, the effects of Reiki treatment may vary widely from one individual to another. Following trials by the University of Texas Health Science Center, published in the "Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine Journal," researchers concluded that the results of touch therapies, such as Reiki, may not be measurable within the confines of the scientific method. While this isn't a reason to forego Reiki therapy, you cannot expect specific results with any statistical accuracy.

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