Reiki treatment has no known medical contraindications. It does not involve the use of any substance and the touch is non-manipulative. When necessary, as in the case of burns or sensitive IV sites, Reiki can be offered just off the body. There is no time when Reiki is dangerous. However, all treatment, regardless the risk, should be used with common sense. Patients who are dependent on pharmaceuticals or procedures require consistent monitoring, as the healing that occurs with Reiki treatment may lessen the need for these interventions. Patients receiving Reiki often require less pain medication, an advantage at any time, but particularly at end of life for those who desire to maintain mental clarity through the dying process.
Reiki treatment does not attack disease. Rather, it supports the person experiencing the disease by gently encouraging his or her system toward its unique state of balance. Since there is so much in life that pulls us off kilter, Reiki’s rebalancing can be useful at any time. However, the balancing effect of Reiki can be particularly valuable—and palpable—when people are undergoing necessary, but invasive, medical treatments. Reiki will not interfere with any medical treatments, but Reiki’s ability to influence the system toward balance may lighten the side effects and increase tolerance to arduous medical treatments.
Science and Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)
The field of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is receiving increased attention in conventional medical environments. Research has shown that by 1997, nearly half the American public was using some form of CAM, and usage continues to rise (Eisenberg 1993, 1998). These studies and others that have been done subsequently indicate that many patients supplement their conventional medical care with CAM on their own, without involving their physicians. Another study found that people seek CAM not out of dissatisfaction with conventional medicine, but because CAM more deeply reflects their values and beliefs. Energy medicine is particularly popular, and is largely regarded as non-invasive and low risk.
The National Institutes of Health created the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) specifically to study "a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine". (See http://nccam.nih.gov/health/whatiscam). With few exceptions, such as the unapproved use of pharmaceuticals, health care practices that are not part of conventional medicine did not develop within the scientific paradigm. Most CAM practices trace their roots to traditional, indigenous medical systems such as Ayurveda (India), Chinese medicine, Tibetan medicine, African medicine and Native American medicine, which predate science as we know it. The foundations of traditional medical systems cannot be defined by scientific parameters, and it is interesting to note that their developments build on rather than refute earlier knowledge. One can, for example, practice rudimentary but sound acupuncture on the basis of the first acupuncture text, the Nei Ching Emporer (Yellow Emporer's Inner Classic), which was recorded 2000 years ago from an oral tradition twice as old.
Although a scientific understanding of CAM is needed, science is grappling with the puzzle of how to use linear methods to test extremely complex traditional medical systems that utilize treatments based on simultaneous assessment of multiple interactions. A useful scientific understanding of CAM can only be built on the profound understanding of foundational CAM principles. Many respected researchers are questioning whether reductionist techniques can adequately investigate holistic systems.