Adverse Effects in Reiki (part 1)

I’ve been working with Reiki for a long time. Close to 18 years now. In all the times I’ve used it for myself, family and clients, I’ve not once seen a bad reaction. None. In theory, after a long, supine, exceptionally relaxing session, someone could get lightheaded on standing because of a vasovagal lag in blood pressure. That is an easy fix. Just take it easy standing after a session. Take your time, sit a bit before standing. If you are lightheaded, sit right back down. In my experience, some people do feel a bit sleepy and groggy after a full session, like they are waking up from a good night’s sleep, but it always passes quickly, and never with any serious dizziness. In a chair session, not even that happens.

If you really stretch it, and go looking for potential trouble, you might want to take care with blood-level dependent medications like coumadin, digoxin, or lithium. IF someone is taking Reiki in an ongoing series of sessions, it might be wise to alert the physician monitoring those medications. In theory (again this is really stretching things) as Reiki improves well-being over time, the body may use the medication is used or metabolized, changing the blood level. I’ve never had any direct reports of this. As someone who uses  Reiki regularly and takes warfarin – in my personal experience, it has no impact on my blood levels at all, ever.

First, let’s look at it literally, from a purely physical point of view. Just touching someone lightly is harmless…quite the opposite, touch is beneficial, needed. Who, under normal circumstances, has been physically hurt by a hug, a handshake, a hand on the shoulder? Touch is essential. Our need for it begins at birth (1). Some argue that the relaxing effect of simple reassuring human touch  is the source of Reiki’s benefit, not some mysterious “energy”. Do hugs and handshakes change digoxin levels? Obviously not. Do your normal garden variety hugs and handshakes cause physical harm? No.

Now lets look at the mind/spirit aspects. Science might call it “placebo effect” (2) or “psychosomatic” effect. From a holistic point of view, mind and body are profoundly connected. “Placebo” and “psychosomatic” aren’t the negative things that mainstream medicine might have you believe. True placebo an psychosomatic phenomena are nothing short of proof of the mind-body connection. So are all the many health benefits that stem from stress management and relaxation. You could write a dissertation about it (3).

Apart from the chance of a little wooziness from standing quickly after deep relaxation (which has to do with the parasympathetic nervous system) , it seems that physical manifestations from Reiki are solidly in the mind-body realm of things, and usually a “healing crisis”….

To be continued….




3. Snow, R. “Reiki and Relaxation: A Practical Look at Reiki as a Stress Reduction in a Non-medical setting (2011) self published.