Reiki in hospitals

In my opinion, the best patient-centred care is one where experts from as many disciplines as possible come together to advise and treat the patient. In this blog post, I want to talk about the benefits of including Reiki in our hospital care.

What is Reiki?

Let’s remember what Reiki is: Reiki is a natural, holistic, non-invasive and non-intrusive healing practice that is safe and simple to use and that can easily be practiced in many settings, including medical institutions. The major benefit of Reiki is that it gently moves the recipient from the sympathetic “fight or flight” stress response to the parasympathetic “rest and digest” relaxation response.

What does Reiki do?

Reiki induces the relaxation response. Reiki can decrease and soften pain and discomfort. Reiki promotes a calmer mind and reduces feelings of stress, anxiety and tension. Reiki promotes the release of health-affirming chemicals which bathe the cells in a sea of life force energy, promoting normal growth and development and it is interesting to note that the traditional Reiki  hand  positions  are  located  over the  major  glands  and  organs  of  the  body in order to influence them directly and support them with the secretion of the hormones that regulate all of our bodily functions. Reiki puts the body in the best condition so it can do what it is designed to do—heal itself.

How does Reiki work?

Reiki is universal life force energy channelled through the hands of a practitioner; it is loving-kindness, compassion and care which enables healing. Reiki can be offered in a seated or lying position and does not require a special environment or equipment. Reiki practitioners place their hands lightly on or just above the physical body in a number of basic hand positions.  Some of the effects of Reiki are:

  • to induce the body’s relaxation response,
  • To reduce Stress, anxiety and tension
  • To complement medical treatments and therapies
  • To benefit chronic and acute medical conditions
  • To decrease side-effects from medication such as Chemotherapy
  • To support and accelerate the healing process after injuries and post surgery
  • To boost the immune system
  • To improve sleep
  • To balance and harmonise body, mind and spirit

Why Reiki in hospitals?

When you read all the above, you can see that Reiki is an ideal complementary therapy to be practiced in our hospitals. In particular, I see Reiki being used in palliative and end of life care, and not only our patients would benefit from Reiki in hospitals, but also their relatives and perhaps even the hospital staff. Reiki provides a caring presence, quiet time, and gentle and comforting touch for patients, relatives and staff in an otherwise busy and technical health care environment.

Scientific and anecdotal evidence of Reiki

We already have some complementary therapies on offer in our hospitals. But I believe Ireland still has a long way to go when it comes to developing an openness to integrating more complementary therapies into the hospital care – and not doing so because they have been scientifically proven to work but because the anecdotal evidence from our patients is very strong. We just can’t reject Reiki (or any other therapies for that matter) in our hospitals just because there is to date little scientific evidence of its efficacy. The care for our patients has to be a holistic one, taking into account the individual’s physical, emotional and spiritual well-being, and the inclusion of Reiki would help support and promote this practice in Irish hospitals. There is some scientific evidence of the positive effects on Reiki as listed on Jane Van De Velde’s website


and this research shows that Reiki has a phenomenal effect on our patients. We still don’t know exactly how Reiki works, but we can’t deny that it does, and more research in the coming years will hopefully show us exactly how Reiki works.

Scepticism and a Reiki trial

I am fully aware that there is a lot of scepticism among our healthcare professionals regarding the efficacy of Reiki, and that is why we need to run Reiki trials: to offer Reiki to groups of patients and to evaluate their response. I am confident that eventually after running such trials Reiki will become an integral part of the complementary therapies on offer in our hospitals as it is already in so many other countries in Europe and overseas.




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