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Use of Reiki Therapy in countries of the North and South: a review


José Henrique do Nascimento BessaI; Denize Cristina de OliveiraII
IMaster in Nursing; Assistant Professor, Medical-Surgical Nursing Department and Doctoral Studentin the Graduate Nursing Program at the School of Nursing, State University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Email: hnbessa@yahoo.com.br,
IIPhD in Public Health, Full Professor, Department of Fundamentals of Nursing and the Public Health Department and GraduateProgram at the School of Nursing at the State University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, E-mail: dcouerj@gmail.com.

ABSTRACT: This review article aimed to identify the scientific literature on Reiki Therapy in the ScIELO, LILACS and MEDLINE databases, using the descriptors ‘Reiki’ and ‘complementary therapies’. The variables considered were year of publication, full text available, country, journal, and number of authors. It was found that the studies were recorded predominantly in MEDLINE (41; 87.23%), published in 2003 (10; 21.27%) and 2010 (6; 12.78%), most articles appeared only as abstract (29; 61.70%), the foremost country was United States (41; 87.23%) and the journal, Holistic Nursing Practice (6; 12.77%). It is concluded that quantitative research on this subject is still incipient in Brazil, indicating a need to continue investigating the use of Reiki and its impact, using scientific method and larger samples, to establish a body of data that justifies its validity as therapy.

Keywords: Therapeutic touch; complementary therapies; nursing care; natural therapies.



There are several disagreements about the origin of Reiki, but many authors identify that MikaoUsui, born in the village of Yago in Japan, was the social actor who systematized Reiki as a therapy1,2.

Reiki is defined as a natural system of balance and repositioning of energy that contributes to the production of a deep relaxation, for the release of energy, inner harmonization and health recovery. It is also considered as a holistic approach to health and well-being, in addition to being taken as a philosophy of life for the promotion of personal happiness and third parties3-5.Consisting of a union of cosmic energy (REI), essential energy that permeates the universe in its original state, high frequency and shapeless, with the personal energy (KI) of the practitioner, the lowest frequency in its manifested form, through the imposition of their hands6.7.

In this respect, REI means universal wisdom, cosmic energy, light, fluid, divine love, primordial energy that balances the energy KI. This last form of energy is present in individuals and in all bodies alive (vital energy, bioenergy or vital fluid), being essential to life on earth, receiving designations varied in different countries and cultures8.

In the process of applying Reiki attunement occurs from a high vibration energy frequency, allowing contributing to raising the vibrational frequency of clients, promoting the restructuring of their energy patterns, which are directly related to the endocrine glandular system, thus promoting physical, emotional, mental and spiritual balance. Reiki acts for the benefit of those who practice it and its breadth and scope are beyond our finite perceptions, because it is an energy of love, healing and transformation, and may be irradiated towards any structure in person or remotely1,7-9.

It is an energy process that harmonizes the individual and the other beings in general, being fundamental for the maintenance of the potential of any living being and may add to all individuals without distinction. It is a method of replacing the chakra energy, treating the change in origin, ie, in the cause, rather than acting only on the clinical manifestations. The chakras are centers of reception, assimilation and transmission of life force and act as a bridge connecting mind, body and spirit, thus contributing towards the maintenance of equilibrium of living beings1,3,7-10.

Reiki can be included as a form of energy therapy, and may contribute to the treatment of stress, fatigue, depression, anxiety andburnout,health professionals and nurses are increasingly vulnerable to these conditions, and may this therapy contribute to recovery of health professionals and of clients11-14.

It was sanctioned in June 2009; the Law no. 5471, by the governor of the State of Rio de Janeiro, being part of one of your goals stimulate the use of techniques of energy assessment of natural therapies and the disclosure of the benefits arising out of natural therapies15. The normative protocol no. 004/95 of the Federal Nursing Council (COFEN) recognizes that alternative therapies are not linked to any professional category16. In addition Resolution no. 197/97 this same Council establishes and recognizes the alternative therapies as a specialty and/or professional qualification in nursing, provided that this professional has completed and been approved in course recognized by educational institution or entity counterpart, with minimum coursework of 360 hours17.

Reiki Therapy is still a recent therapy in Brazil, developed by professional nurse, but the changes in Brazilian legislation with the implementation in 2006 of the National Policy on Integrative and Complementary Practices (PNPIC) in the Unified Health System (SUS) this activity tends to increase18.

The professional nurse who is initiated into Reiki starts to act within a paradigm that care should provide change in the patterns of assistance provided to customers, because this professional is formed with a holistic view of the human being and health. It is noteworthy that nurses are professionals who comes with greater receptivity for complementary and integrative practices19,20.

It is important to understand that, despite the great diversity of allopathic and alternative therapeutic methods, one should have the possibility of acting in order to integrate them in favor of providing comprehensive care to individuals.

Considering the importance of Reiki in the domestic and international scenarios, the objective of this Article is to review bibliometric articles published on Reiki Therapy in different countries of North and South America, from their quantification and characterization byspecific variables.


Bibliometric Study conducted from the search of articles available in online databases. The following databases were used: Scientific Electronic Library Online (SciELO), Latin American and Caribbean Literature in Health Sciences (LILACS) and International Literature in Health Sciences (MEDLINE).

The descriptors used for selection of the articles were complementary therapies and Reiki, the second of which was the primary definition for this selection. The stipulated temporal cut was the period from 1996 to 2012. There was no definedarea ofknowledge, and articles were selected from scientific journals of North and South American countries that appeared in the selected databases in studies using only Reiki as a therapy in human beings. Therefore, the studies performed with animals or plants and that included another type of therapy were excluded.

In the production analysis, the following variables were used: databases, publication year; availability of full text and/or abstracts; publications according to the North and South American countries, journals and number of authors.

Data collection was made ​​from the completing of an instrument containing the variables mentioned above, from reading what was presented in the full text or abstracts from reading what was presented in them. Then, the results were systematized and presented through tables, with absolute and relative frequencies.
Considering that the study is based on an electronic bibliographic search, there was no need for an analysis by the Ethics and Research Committee.


There were 47 published articlesidentified in the period from 1996 to 2012. In the distribution analysis of articles per database, it was found that 41 (87.23%) were identified in the International Literature in Health Sciences (MEDLINE), followed by 4 (8.52%) Articles in the Scientific Electronic Library Online (SciELO) and finally 2 (4.25%) in the Latin American and Caribbean Literature in Health Sciences (LILACS), according to Table 1. This data leads one to reflect that there is a scarcity of articles being drafted and submitted on Reiki for publication or acceptance by the magazines, not being seen asimportant.

Table 1: Distribution of articles per Database. Rio de Janeiro, 2012.

The temporal distribution of the texts shows that, in the 1990s, were published, 4 (8.52%) articles, being that in 1996 and 1997 only 1 (2.13%) for each year and, in 1999, 2 (4.25%). Between 2001 and 2010 the publications have increased, but if emphasized more in 2003, with a total of 10 (21,27%), in 2005, 2009 and 2012 with 4 (8.51%) in each year, 06 with 5 (10.64%) and in the year 2010 there were 6 (12.78%). This growth seems to reflect the recommendations of the 1990s, suggesting that the achievement of other studies on the Reiki Therapy, in order to confirm the satisfactory results that had been occurring in relation to the use of this type of therapy.

The distribution of articles according to the availability of text, found a predominance of studies with only an abstract online, accounting for 29 (61.70%), followed by no abstract, 17 (36.17%) and full-text only 1 (2.13%). This result makes it difficult to carry out the broader evaluation of the general profile of the productions and the profile of the sport of field research, including approach, type of study, the research subjects, place of study, and the technique for data collection. Among others by little access to detailed information on the studies.

In relation to the distribution of articles by country of publication, it was found that 41 (87.23%), were published in the United States, Brazil 5 (10.64%) and in Colombia 1 (2.13%). This result characterizes that almost all of the studies was conducted in the United States, revealing the greater interest of researchers by topic in this country, despite the quantitative of active therapists in Brazil.

The journals with the highest quantity of publications in relation to Reiki therapy were the Holistic Nursing Practice, 6 (12.77%), followed by Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine 5 (10.63%) and the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 4 (8.50%), according to Table 2. It is important to highlight that of the 32 journals identified, 17 are specific to the nursing, evidencing that the nursing researchers value this type of therapy11-14,19,20, probably by the humanist profile of their training.

Table 2: Distribution of articles according to periodical publication. Rio de Janeiro, 2012.
With respect to the distribution of articles by number of authors, it was noticed that the greater part has been produced by a single author, corresponding to 23 (48.94%) productions, 8 (17.01%) by two authors, 6 (12.77%) with three authors, 4 (8.51%) with four authors and 4 (8.51%) with more than four. These data reveal an individual research development trend, not research groups related to health professionals that have even started application of this type of therapy are still not integrating knowledge production, with the published work one expression of the isolated professional activity11-14,19,20.
Regarding the topics addressed, it was identified that in the majority of articles researched Reiki was used to contribute to the recovery of health as well as other aspects. Namely: treatment of pathologies, 17 (36.17%); providing a balance of mental health, 8 (17.02%); applied in nurses, 7 (14.90%); promote well-being, 6 (12.77%); support for completion of exams, 3 (6.38%); giving support to people who undergo surgical procedures, 3 (6.38%); and applied on children, 3 (6.38%), in accordance with Table 3.

Table 3: Distribution of the subjects addressed in the articles Rio de Janeiro, 2012.

This result demonstrates that Reiki research is being developed with its focus highlighted in its potentiality for the improvement of pathological situations, and on a smaller scale for promoting the well-being of the subjects1-20. It is noteworthy, therefore, as the facet of Reiki energy healing and transformation, which also contributes to harmonize individuals.


The biomedical model continues to address the human being through expertise, promoting a predominantly physical approach, partial and fragmented, seeing them so compartmentalized, being the pathology, the focus of intervention, disregarding the integral vision of the subject.

In contrast to this model, emerged the alternative therapies that present a holistic view, proposing a universal re-encounter among the sciences and among these and the traditions of wisdom. In this paradigm, the care is focused on the human being, considering their social relations, their emotional state, their food etc.

The impact of the publication of the National Policy on Integrative and Complementary Practices in the Brazilian Public Health System reaches, among others, the economic, technical, political, education and research, fields because it promotes the inclusion of new care practices in a field, which until then was dominated by complex market of products and services driven by biomedical rationality.

It is worth noting that the human search for therapies that cater to their health needs, has led to an increase of this policy that entered the complementary therapies as more a practice of assistance institutionalized in our society. However, with the growing popularity of these therapies and the number of professionals who practice in Brazil and in Latin America, there is a need for studies that will help us to understand its insertion in the practice of nursing and other health professionals, in addition to its potential impact on health, disease and the well-being of the subjects.


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2. Schulte S. Reiki, trabalhando com energia: uma ampla introdução ao Reiki e ao trabalho com processos energéticos. Blumenau (SC): EKO; 1997.

3. De’carli J.Reiki a terapia do 3º milênio. 2ª ed. São Paulo: Madras; 1999.

4.De’carli J. Reiki como filosofia de vida. São Paulo: Isis; 2012.

5. Davis CM. Fisioterapia e reabilitação: terapias complementares. Tradução de Carlos Henrique Cosendey. Revisão Técnica de Eliane Ferreira. 2ª ed. Rio de Janeiro: Guanabara Koogan; 2006.

6. MorenoJA.Medicina energética: o confronto com a medicina oficial. 3ª ed. Belo Horizonte (MG): Artes Gráficas Almeida; 2005.

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9. Honervogt T. Reiki: cura e harmonia através das mãos. São Paulo: Pensamento; 2006.

10. Chambers M, Barnett L. Reiki medicina energética. 3ª ed. Rio de Janeiro: Nova Era; 2008.

11. Natale GW. Reconecting to nursing through Reiki.CreatNurs. 2010; 16 (4): 171-6.

12. Hulse RS,Suart-Shor EM, Russo J. Endoscopic procedure with modified Reiki intervention: a pilot study. Reasearch in Gastroenterological Nursing. 2010;33(1):20-6.

13. RichesonNE, Spross JA, Lutz K, Peng C. Effects of Reiki axienty, depression on pains and physiological factors in community dwelling older adults. Res Gerontol Nurs. 2010; 3(3):187-9.

14. Potter PJ. Breast biopsy and suffering the visibility of testing an intervention Reiki. J Holist Nurs.2007; 25(4):238-48.

15. Governo do Estado do Rio de Janeiro. Lei nº 5471 de 10 de junho de 2009. Estabelece no âmbito do estado do rio de janeiro a criação do programa de terapia natural. Rio de Janeiro: Governo do Estado do Rio de Janeiro; 2009.

16. Conselho Federal de Enfermagem (Br). Parecer normativodoCOFEn nº004/95. Dispõe sobre as atividades em Terapias Alternativas. BolInfCOREn. 1995;18(4):8.

17. Conselho Federal de Enfermagem (Br). Resolução 197 de 19 de março de 1997.Estabelece e reconhece as terapias alternativas como especialidade e/ou qualificação do profissional de Enfermagem. Brasília (DF): Conselho Federal de Enfermagem; 1997.

18. Ministério da Saúde (Br). Portaria 971 de 04 de maio de 2006. Dispõe sobre aPolítica Nacional de Práticas Integrativas e Complementares (PNPIC) no Sistema Único de Saúde.Brasília (DF): Ministério da Saúde; 2006.

19. Ceolin T, Heck RM, Pereira DB, Martins AR, Coimbra VCC, Silveira DSS. Inserción de terapias complementarias em el sistema único de salud atendendo al cuidado integral enla assistência. Enfermería Global. 2009;16:1-9.

20. Salles SAC.Homeopatia, universidade e SUS: resistência e aproximações. São Paulo: Hucitec/Fapesp; 2008.

Direitos autorais 2014 José Henrique do Nascimento Bessa, Denize Cristina de Oliveira

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