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Does Reiki Work?

Updated on November 18, 2010

If you are questioning whether or not Reiki really works, you are probably considering going for a treatment or taking a class to learn how to treat yourself with Reiki. The answer to your question is not a simple yes or no.

The answer, in my opinion, is sometimes yes, temporarily, if you are seeking deeper relaxation or reduction of stress on your body. If you are looking for a magical solution to a major health crisis, Reiki is not your answer. I believe that the consistent use of Reiki may help you to manage stress levels and increase relaxation. I do not believe, nor have I seen in more than 10 years of teaching and practice, the healing of cancer or any major health crisis, including my own. I do not know personally any other Reiki Master who would dare claim that.

I am qualified to answer this. I became a seventh generation Traditional Reiki Master and Teacher more than 13 years ago. I have taught a wide variety of students in NY, NJ and CT  and was considered a gifted healer by my colleagues.

Time after time, my experience was the same when performing "healing sessions" for clients with chronic health issues. They would receive substantial relief from their pain. Then the  pain or the problem would inevitably come back.

Mikao Usui, founder of the Usui System of Reiki / Traditional Reiki
Mikao Usui, founder of the Usui System of Reiki / Traditional Reiki

The History of Reiki

Reiki is an ancient Tibetan healing art that was rediscovered by Mikao Usui in the 1800's. Usui was, by some accounts a Catholic monk looking for a way to heal like Jesus healed. Other accounts simply say that he was a monk, presumably Buddhist, perhaps Shinto.

Reiki was brought to the USA in the late 1800's. Traditionally, a student must pay $10,000 to become a Reiki Master. The fear here is that without paying such a large sum, you will not value it adequately. The same goes for the fees charges for Reiki attunements and training in the three levels.

That has all changed drastically in the last 15 years. Students are made into master/ teachers in a weekend for a fee that is small in comparison and perhaps, they don't value it at all. Certainly, they can not learn adequately in a weekend what has traditionally taken a year or more of study?

A Temporary Fix?

Now after reading that, most Reiki Masters or practitioners would say that I was the problem, perhaps my error here? No, according to ALL sources, Reiki is an "intelligent energy" that knows where to go and what to do. Which is why Reiki healers can do no harm (according to the teachings). Since I was also a teacher, I have seen the struggle first hand with my students. They experience the exact same thing. And when they were presented with a personal health crisis(as several were), Reiki could do little to ease their condition.

The Dark Side of Reiki

I believe that if Reiki was truly the miracle energy medicine that it's believers claim it to be, it would be mainstream. I know that if every one that I initially healed stayed healed I would have people banging down my door, begging for my help. I would be using it and teaching it still, if I had seen one - just one person - experience long term healing.

There is not a conspiracy of any kind trying to keep Reiki down and out of the hands of millions. It is simply not what it claims to be. Even the history of Reiki varies from teacher to teacher, depending on the "openness" of their class. How can true compassion and healing come from deception and greed? The idea that someone cannot be healed unless they have paid a certain amount is absurd and medieval! And that is the general rule when giving and teaching Reiki.

Certainly, it doesn't help that the New Age Movement has taken a traditional Japanese healing modality and remade it - there is now Non-Traditional Reiki, Karuna Reiki, Ascended Masters Reiki, Radiance Technique and probably another dozen that I am not aware of, like Pleiadian Reiki or Ancient Egyptian Cat Reiki, which will only damage the any of the remaining credibility that Reiki still maintains.  Airy-fairy people walking around talking about channeling the masters or archangels isn't going to fly.

And it isn't because the rest of us are so un-evolved, close minded, slaves to our negative thinking or in need of an awakening.

I am thinking quite clearly these days.

I don't think you can buy spiritual healing or a miracle over eBay (as Rieki is now often sold), and I'm shocked that people think that it is ethical to sell it this way. I'm even more shocked that people buy it.

Please, do not misunderstand me. I am not saying that Reiki is not real. I am not saying that nothing happens. My hands used to burn with energy. My clients loved the relaxation and felt balanced and energized after a treatment. What I am saying is this: Reiki is wonderful for relaxation. It is warm and comforting, but it uses, quite simply, ends there.

My students, for the most part, still practice and love Reiki. They consider it a gift and use it very carefully.

I no longer bother with it. After 10 years and a substantial financial investment in obtaining the best training available in New York City, I walked away. I have never looked back. My only regret is that I was not able to help those in need who came to me.

My final thought:

If you have a limited amount of money and are desperately seeking a solution to a medical problem, there are plenty of alternative medicine paths to take. The most effect and time tested method of balancing the energy in the body is with out a doubt acupuncture, and I promise it doesn't hurt at all!

If you are simply looking to relax and unwind, or deepen your mediation or yoga practice, Reiki will likely be a good fit for you.


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    • profile image

      Bal KS 

      3 years ago

      I think you are missing the point here by saying it is good for relaxation and ends here. Maybe it is good as a transcendental meditation, meditation of Chi, but useless as a healing method.

      I think Reiki is simply borrowing the benefits of meditation and using to make false claims about healing. As for relaxation, that is only an issue if you live in the Western world. In the East, relaxation comes naturally, it is just a mindset.

    • kalinin1158 profile image

      Lana Adler 

      4 years ago from California

      I've had 2 Reiki initiations about 10 years ago, also in New York, and I still distinctly remember how it felt. Something definitely took place there, my body doesn't lie. If I remember correctly, everyone has the natural healing capacity, but Reiki "opens up" an additional channel and thus greatly enhances your healing capacity. After my second initiation I was buzzing with energy bzzzzzzzz....

      But as the time went on and as I used Reiki more and more sporadically, I couldn't feel it anymore. I still remember the hand positions and such, and I can feel the warmth in my hands, but do I still have it? I honestly don't know. Thanks for sharing.

    • SkySlave profile image

      Skyler DeCristoforo 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Fascinating hub. Ive always been very interested in natural ways of healing the body and mind as well as mental exploration. Reiki has defiantly caught my curiosity. I think im going to dig a little deeper.

      I appreciate the honesty of this article. Thanks for sharing


    • arksys profile image


      5 years ago from Adelaide, Australia


      I have just received the initiation process of Reiki and i'm also still looking into the pros and cons of it... your hub sounds really honest and gives a really good description. Thank you for sharing it.

      I could also sense from your hub that you may have lost someone close to you who you tried to treat but maybe did not work out. I'm just guessing here but whatever the case, the only thing which is for certain is death; all the rest is temporary.

      Its great to see these kind of honest words from an experienced practitioner... thanks for sharing, i've learnt a lot from this hub.

    • amy jane profile imageAUTHOR

      amy jane 

      6 years ago from Connecticut

      Lisa, of all the comments I have received here, yours is the most insightful and resonated with me. There is no denying the energy, but greed does pollute it and it did feel like a betrayal. Each person experiences it in a different way and we are not the source- I think many who work with the energy forget that. Thanks for sharing you thoughts.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I hear your pain In this processing article. No denying the energy and power of loving healing intention but the money aspect does dirty up the flow. I have always felt the energy before I ever heard of reiki. I took a course from a woman who was so mean and greedy I did not even want her to touch me or be in the room with her. If you have ever felt it you know it, that light and heat passing through you is undeniable. However we are works in progress, nothing last forever and we are not the source. I get how you feel I think but I think your feelings stem from the betrayal you feel towards a polluted stream, sullied by prostitution of something purer. I think you know the ENERGY is real but your God doesn't do headings for money. Shanti and love to you!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Totally agree with you Amy! My experiences in both giving, receiving and teaching reiki mirror your own. Reiki is one of many useful tools, but has it's limitations. It is frustrating to learn of the many different versions of reiki - what in the world is 'Gold' reiki?!!!!! I gave up on reiki some 12 years ago and feel a bit silly that I was sucked in, like so many other people, and a bit guilty that I encouraged others to be duped too.

    • Teredrade profile image


      6 years ago from Florida

      Hi Amy,

      I understand your frustration, but I believe that you have forgotten the part of the teaching of Reiki that says " Reiki gives or takes the right amount of energy necessary to balance the mind, body and emotions. It will effect changes in the chemical structure of the body, changes anything that needs to be changed inside the physical and etheric organisms WHEN COMBINED WITH THE SINCERE DESIRE OF THE PERSON TO BE HEALED, THAT IS, THE PERSON HAS TO WANT TO CHANGE HER EMOTIONAL AND SPIRITUAL CONSCIOUSNESS. The energy is neutral and expects from the person to be healed to give it the positive and productive power. You're right in saying that if a person is expecting a miracle it's not going to happen, miracles do not exist. Reiki provides the right combination of energy vibrations in order to promote healing where the healing is needed, but the individual has to be willing to make changes in their own behavior and attitude in order for the healing to take place. Sickness begins at the mental level created by thought patterns and social/family conditioning/tabus, if not corrected it will transfer to the emotional level, still if not corrected it will become physical illness. Any pain is a "wake up" call, Reiki gives the person an energy booster to help the person to "get up" and do an introspect and seek changes in its life pattern. Reiki will continue to give energy boosters, but if the person refuse to see the obvious, the Reiki treatment will remain an energy booster that, wears off after while instead of being a continued energy booster that provides strengths, supports and carry the person out of the tunnel.

      Also, each person is born with a life script, it takes up to 5 life cycles or reincarnation cycles to clear some of the crystallized somatizations of previous lives emotional traumas, many terminal physical illnesses are part of a person's script to purge the crystallized somatization. The physical body might not be healed, but the emotional body and mental body will, thus in the next life cycle the person will no longer carry that burden caused by that specific somatization.

      Now in cases where the person has a terminal illness but it turned around, you will see that the person had a complete behavior change towards itself and others. Remember that the healing we should be looking for is spiritual, the body is just a suit used by the spirit in order to function in our planet.

      Reiki is one of the tools a person can count on for energetic support in order to turn its life around. Nothing in this world will heal you unless you take the first step to do it yourself, every none energetic modality (medication)that PROMOTES healing is temporary relieve of manifested symptoms, because the energetic somatization remains in your energetic and emotional body, to manifest itself again in a different part of the physical body or to become a chronic problem. With energetic modalities like Reiki it works together with the person in order to reach all bodies, thus eliminating the crystallized energies causing the disruption on all the person's bodies. One thing is for sure Similar attracts Similar, it is necessary to change in order to evolve.

      You might be interested in reading "Our Evolution" by DR. Waldo Vieira, Retrocognition by Wagner Alegretti and Spiritual Healing and Imortality by Patrick Drouot.

      When I became a Reiki Master in 1994, I felt that one thing missing was information regarding spirituality and the physical & extraphysical exchange. That's why when I teach Reiki or Bioenergy manipulation, I teach the students about the Cause of illnesses and somatization, universal and bio energies and about besiegers.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      In my opinion not only does Reiki work, it continues to work. I have very many clients who have found long-term physical and emotional benefits. It may wwll be that this form of therapy just didn't suit you personally. I experminented with lots of different therapies before I found the one that resonated with me.

    • profile image

      vaswati raychaudhuri 

      6 years ago

      I have done the reiki 1st course. it has not helped much. apart from the money spent i feel the teacher should at the begining of the session give tips about some mind control techniques as without it i feel reiki will be of no help. thanks amy jane for your frank input.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I have seen miracles happen with reiki. It is being documented now in medical journals and is used in some of the biggest hospitals in the country. Some are not meant to work in healing, either on themselves or others.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Dear Amy Jane

      The fact is that how much you believe, you earn that much.

      Reiki healing needs utmost belief, this I have experienced.

      Reiki really works as an eternal blessing.

      Please do not take otherwise.

    • Reiki-Claude profile image


      7 years ago from Winnipeg Manitoba

      I also believe that once you take away your desire to control everything then Reiki can do its work of healing. Maybe because I have a gift of healing that most of my healings stays. I also took many other modalities classes to understand what is the difference between energy and energy healing.

      When you ask your client to be open minded but they keep praying for healing, something is wrong. When you ask to be open minded it means let go of prayer to God, let go of prayer to universe, let go of making deals if you get the healing. Your clients should be a witness to their own healing. Once you know why your client is seeing you you should also be a witness to the recovery and stay away from controlling the healing. NON of us is God and all of us can heal.

      No apologies necessary Andrew we are all here to help one another.

    • profile image

      Andrew J Cook 

      7 years ago

      Sorry but Reiki was NOT discovered in the 1800's, it was developed in the early 1920's.

      Mikao Usui was NOT Christian, but a Shinto Lay Preacher.

      Reiki has absolutely NOTHING to do with Tibet. It's Japanese, pure and simple.

      Check Frank Arjava Petter on Amazon for a source of Reiki history that is at least reasonably accurate.

      Reiki should NEVER be claimed to be a miracle cure. Anyone who says it is is a charlatan. It is an effective complimentary therapy.

      Cancer tumors have been shrunk to a size that makes them operable. Tendons heal much quicker. There are documented instances of Diabetics starting to produce insulin after Reiki (very dangerous if the sufferer does not check their blood before their next injection).

      Miracle cures do happen once in a while but Reiki should never be marketed as such. To do so is irresponsible and untrue.

      Also... Reiki is NOT an intelligent energy... The intuition of the therapist directs the energy where to go. If the therapist only ever uses the stock hand positions of Reiki 1 then cures are far less likely than if they actually follow Mikao Usui's instructions and actually treat the condition presented. The stock hand positions are only ever a catch-all that was introduced after Mikao's death. He never used them.

      Rant over... My apologies. :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks Amy Jane, for sharing. Allow me to add my thoughts... One thing I find is that Reiki also helps clarify the mind/emotions.. one becomes better aware of the little blocks or habits that are causing stress, and if they wish, can work on them, and hence allow for a longer lasting relief so long as they continue with working on their issues. Its like acidity.. sometimes a tablet works fast, but often times you get longer lasting results if you find out why the acidity in the first place, fix that and then work to prevent a relapse.

      To me Reiki also helps clear the mind and emotions so that I can focus more on the real cause of problems. Perhaps the same also works at a subconscious level? I don't know, but it also works at the physical level as a relaxing aid.

      I don't worry much about the permanency of the healing, as I am of the opinion that at some level, people have a free choice. This to me means that they choose whether to heal, to get better, how long to live etc. As a Reiki channel I can only aid them in for far as they want that help, be it for a moments relief or as a way to change their life. As such I try not to be attached to the results since I am also deeply aware that I am not the source. Perhaps, to be a bit silly here, I want to think that the tablet one popped for their acidity isn't too concerned whether it produces the intended result. It just does what it's meant to do. There are perhaps a myriad other factors that influence the healing process.

      I learn as I go, and I know that those who come for help also find some succor, even if both of us are unable to pin point at exactly what point it occurs.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      According to me reiki is a wonderful treatment for all the problems.Because all the diseases start from the mind.Reiki heales the mind first then the body.It may take its own time to get a complete heale.Because Reiki is an intellectual spiritual force which has been discovered from the ancient indian sanskrit sriptures and later modified.

    • Alladream74 profile image

      Victor Mavedzenge 

      7 years ago from Oakland, California

      Thank you for demystifying the subject. Such areas of knowledge require an experienced one to comment on. I appreciate your straight talk about it

    • moneycop profile image


      7 years ago from JABALPUR

      amy this is a good side of urs...u write so cute and short to the point. happy to follow you and read your all time

    • Carlon Michelle profile image

      Carlon Michelle 

      7 years ago from USA

      I found this article quite interesting. I've heard here and there about reiki but never really got an understanding of it. You're article gave me a nice overview of the practice. Smile!

    • profile image

      Rev. Lynn DeLellis 

      7 years ago

      I disagree that Reiki has no merit and does not heal. There will always be those who mis-use something that is good. If there is greed, then those involved will have to experience the result of that greed. A true desire to be used by the Divine Source as a vessel for healing is all that is required.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I rarerly comment on blogs or similar pages. However, could not resist myself from posting here.

      Thanks Amy for the wonderful post. It was a very well balanced post without any bias on any side. Really loved it.

    • Janoah profile image


      7 years ago

      what a refreshing and open and honest account regarding Reiki. I often get shhhhed if I talk about Money and how a few try to keep Reiki for the elite.

      It has not cured my ME or the effects of a total physical and mental burnout 10 years ago, but helps to give me an excellent quality of life, through daily self treatments.

      Just recently I have been able to attune my Mum to Reiki I, who has terminal cancer, we know Reiki offers no cure, but her self treatments have help her control her anxiety and pain, enables her to carry out her daily activities, laugh and joke with friends and family.

      Reiki for me does work long term, but needs daily treatments to help with Stress, Anxiety, depression. Its becomes a way of life.

      Thank you for a excellent hub, vote up.

    • tebo profile image


      7 years ago from New Zealand

      I have been attuned to Reiki One and Two, and practice on family and friends and myself. I don't charge as I just like to see if it helps. I think it can certainly fix small problems. I pulled a muscle in my back last week and gave myself reiki where it hurt. As the day went on it improved and was gone by the morning. It hasn't come back. It has had the same effect on others. A friend had recurring shoulder pain from an old injury. I worked on her twice and it hasn't come back. I work on a lady regularly with diabetes and this hasn't really improved without increasing medication but I'm pretty sure she doesn't stick to the eating rules. With these more serious illnesses it does seem repetition is required.

      I do agree also that the charges are or were phenomenal. The lady that taught me had to pay $10,000.00 Now you can be taught Reiki Three for around $500.00 here in New Zealand. I've also had a bit of training in Auric/magnetic healing which also seems to need repeat sessions to keep symptoms at bay. I have however read of success stories with both of these healing modalities.

      Interesting hub. Thanks.

    • gajanis786 profile image


      7 years ago

      Very nice....I believe in Reiki a work very fast and gives a long time healing affect.Thanks.

    • profile image

      Bonnie Adam 

      7 years ago

      Hi Amy Jane;

      Thanks for your honesty and for the way you clearly laid out your information. I don't think you were being negative. Just realistic.

      I am a practicing Reiki Master and I have also just trained in acupuncture. I agree, acupuncture really is the cats meow! I still use Reiki and still believe it is a great tool for stress reduction. Stress is a major cause of health problems after all. But I do agree, that is about as far as Reiki can go. I tell my clients that when we reduce the stress, any physical relief is because of the reduction in tightness in muscles and vessels in the body. That's why people feel better. Their muscles relax, they breath more deeply, and their blood pressure may reduce. Also, just the act of deeply relaxing for about an hour allows the person the time they need to process all of their emotional issues. There's the emotional/spiritual healing part. Plus, I like to think I am a good listener and provide a supportive environment for people to work through their problems in.

      I keep my rates reasonable so if people want to try Reiki as a stress reduction technique, it is within their grasp. I do sometimes get pressured by others in my field to raise my rates.

      As far as the temporary thing. Well, yes, it is only temporary because we don't live in bubbles. We will go out and get stressed again. But massage is temporary, medications are temporary, heck, even eating is only temporary! We need to upkeep our health in many ways and finding a way to help de-stress is part of that.

      And also, the effects of acupuncture are often temporary too. We often need a tune-up every month or two.

      Just because something is not a miracle cure, doesn't mean it isn't worth a try. There are no miracle cures out there offered by any other therapy.

      It is great that you had the courage to raise the issue Amy Jane! You have no idea how often I have had this discussion!

      I will post a link to you on my blog. I like my clients to have the full story when they are deciding whether or not they want to use or learn Reiki and I think you have given this topic a fair analysis.



    • profile image

      Reiki Cursus 

      8 years ago

      Very useful article. Does anyone have any experience with distance attunements?

      Thanks Justin.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 

      8 years ago from Minnesota

      You did a really good job on this hub. I was intrigued when I read the title because one of my spiritual mentors had told me about six years ago that Reiki energy is no longer on this earth. Not sure exactly what that all means but she knows her stuff. She has been a healer and masseus for many years and has seen angels since her childhood. I think it is great that you shared this with us.

    • profile image

      learn Reiki 

      8 years ago

      I think it can work but it may only be on a pshycological level.

    • truster profile image


      8 years ago from A Bed of Roses

      Interesting ! Sometimes it works.

    • amy jane profile imageAUTHOR

      amy jane 

      8 years ago from Connecticut

      Thank you both for your comments. Haunty, I agree that without s change in lifestyle, it is very difficult to maintain healing or good health long term.

      Lynda, I absolutely think that massage is a terrific way to manage pain. I too wish I could afford it daily, even weekly to control my head pain!

    • Lynda Gary profile image

      Lynda Gary 

      8 years ago

      Thank you for your honest, open expression regarding Reiki. For years, my sister has been trying to get me to see a Reiki "healer" And though I typically go for the holistic path, I've always been reluctant. Like you, I thought, "If this REALLY 'heals' like they claim, it would be more mainstream."

      Massage -- which also has a temporary benefit for chronically ill patients -- is less expensive and, imo, just as beneficial. I look forward to the day when I can afford DAILY massage treatments to rid my need for narcotic pain management. I KNOW without a doubt, it will replace the need for meds.

      Thanks again!

    • Haunty profile image


      8 years ago from Hungary

      I'm of the mind that even the most skilled, most benevolent reiki master is unable to heal a patient out of their problem if all the rest of their lifestyle is there to support its upkeep. I mean people smoke, drink, eat on the run (usually junk food), stress themselves out over everything, don't sleep enough, don't exercise a bit, and then reiki is supposed to miraculously heal them? I think reiki is a wonderful tool and I'm sure that you did everything within your reach to help your patients.

    • amy jane profile imageAUTHOR

      amy jane 

      8 years ago from Connecticut

      Thanks for understanding. I know that I may sound bitter here, but it bothers me when people are deceived. I agree that Rieki can open doors for emotional healing, but I honestly believe that the experience of healing is temporary. Of course, I didn't feel this way for the time that I was practicing and teaching. It wasn't until I took a step back (far back) that I realized that things were not as I had thought / hoped.

      People do need a source of healing and hope in their lives, it is my personal opinion that reiki is not - all that.

    • Sally's Trove profile image


      8 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      For some, reiki can be a door of personal exploration through which emotional pain can be expressed and relieved, and from there, much pain can be dealt with.

      I am truly sorry that you came to the conclusions you did about reiki, especially since you put so much of yourself into it.

      The dark side of reiki is what unscrupulous charlatans would make of it...scammers like snake oil salesmen.

      In the wrong hands, reiki is as deadly as the scalpel in the hands of a surgeon poser.

    • amy jane profile imageAUTHOR

      amy jane 

      8 years ago from Connecticut

      Hi Keira, thanks so much for your kind words. I agree - it is so important to unwind and relax! It seems our lives have gotten so busy and stressful. We need to learn how to manage it all a little better. I'm glad you found this hub useful. Thank you again. :)

    • keira7 profile image


      8 years ago

      Hi my dear, I love relaxation and I love to experiment anything that does with relaxing. I do take lesson of yoga as its so important to unwind. Great hub, thanks for the very good info, I am glad I did read a lot of your work. I have learned a lot. I dont comment often, I always worry about my grammar.:) But I do rate up each time I finish reading, specially when the work is excellent like yours. Unfortunatly I couldn't watch the video properly on this hub, so I would try again later. I dont know if its computer problem. Anyway i will try again. Thanks for sharing. Have a very nice weekend my dear friend.:)


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