Reiki that - how some Americans use alternative medicine to deal with stress

When Black Lives Matter protests started around the world, Reiki Level 3 student, Indra Gandy, decided to use her skills in the alternative healing technique to help.

"At this point, I become a conduit of positive energy," Gandy described the Reiki ritual she performed on a pier bench, a walking distance from her Staten Island home. "You are purposely giving them love and pure energy, health, stability and positive strength."

Reiki, which was developed in Japan in early 20th century, is often described as alternative medicine through energy healing.

In Japanese, the first part of the word, 'rei,' means "spiritual" and the second, 'ki,' stands for 'vital energy' or 'life force.'

Practitioners believe that a Reiki treatment can be performed from a distance.

"A Reiki practitioner doesn't actually have any secret powers," said Reiki Master Erin Tschantret. "Anyone can practice Reiki. It's really, like, if a plumber were to open up a pipe and then suddenly water can flow through it, the practitioner is the pipe in the Reiki is the water. And it works on every level, so mental, emotional, physical, spiritual."

Tschantret's client, Rachel Garbow Monroe, said distance Reiki helped her fight COVID-19.

"The first time I talked to her when I was ill, I had had almost an entire week of a fever," Rachel Garbow Monroe said. "And the next day, my fever broke."

Tschantret's another client, writer and an author of a book "Zen Bender," in which she explored many alternative healing techniques of dealing with stress, Stephanie Krikorian, said distance Reiki has been helpful in the coronavirus era.

"People are afraid, we are at the end of our rope and feeling very stressed and anxious," Krikorian said. "You can do something without being near somebody, when we're all sort of separated and trying to hunker down and things are easing up a little, but everybody is still not comfortable."

Over the past 20 years, Reiki has become more and more popular in some of the most respected American hospitals, such as Yale Cancer Center.

"I'm not going to be the first person to tell you that there's a ton of evidence behind it," said Dr. Gary Soffer, who runs the Integrative Medicine Program at the Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital in New Have, Connecticut. "But what I will tell you is that when we deal with patients one on one, it's really meaningful, and it's really helpful."

Several studies showed that Reiki helps diminish negative side effects of chemotherapy, recover from surgery, regulate nervous system, and deal with pain.

But there is no research paper that explains how Reiki works.

There is also no proof that healing energy can pass between people on command.

(Production: Aleksandra Michalska)

Video Transcript

- They treating us like this.

- You are visualizing in your heart and minds the protesters, and the fear, and the anger, and all the things that are happening. And you are purposely giving them love and pure energy, health, stability, and positive strength.

- So what a Reiki practitioner does is they channel that energy to the person. So it's like you're getting flooded with this intense energy, knowledge, intelligence that knows how to get you to your best place. So it only ever works for your highest and greatest good. And it works on every level, so mental, emotional, physical, spiritual. And it helps get you back in alignment.

- I suffered both from COVID, and then a few weeks later, I had another acute illness. And she took care of being in touch with me and asking how I was doing. And you know, she believes very strongly in the power of Reiki, whether she's in the room or not.

And I leave it to you to determine the results. But I-- the first time I talked to her when I was ill, I had had almost an entire week of a fever. And she was incredibly sweet, and solicitous, and wanted to know how I was feeling and what specifically I was struggling with. And the next day, my fever broke.

- It's a great thing for the time. Distance Reiki, that you can do something without being near somebody when we're all sort of separated, and trying to hunker down. And things are easing up a little, but everybody's still not comfortable.

- The first question we ask ourselves in integrative medicine is, is this invasive? Is this going to be harmful to the patient? And then the next question is, is this helpful? Right? Is there evidence behind it?

So with Reiki, I'm not going to be the first person to tell you that there's a ton of evidence behind it. But what I will tell you is that when we deal with patients one on one, it's really meaningful, and it's really helpful. And because it's non-invasive, because it does no harm to our patients, it's a really meaningful and helpful intervention for them.