Reiki is a form of energy healing therapy. It was developed in Japan by Mikao Usui in the 1920s. In Japanese, “reiki” means universal life energy.

According to practitioners, our bodies have energy fields. If this energy is disrupted, it can lead to health problems. The goal of reiki is encourage physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual healing by realigning your energy.

During a reiki session, a practitioner gently places their hands on or above your body to balance its flow of energy. They also slowly move their hands across your body.

Supporters of reiki say it can ease stress, anxiety, and the perception of pain. But there’s limited scientific evidence to support these claimed benefits.

Additionally, the practice has been associated with some disadvantages and risks. Read on to learn more.

Reiki is considered to be safe. But it may cause some side effects like the following:

Discomfort during a session

During reiki, you lie down on a massage table in a dark or dim room. You have to hold still as your practitioner stands over you. They might play soft music in the background, but they won’t talk during the session.

For some people, this can feel uncomfortable or awkward. It could lead to anxiety, panic attacks, or the inability to relax.

Drop in blood oxygen levels

A 2013 clinical trial examined how reiki affected pain in children getting dental procedures.

Twenty children received real reiki therapy and 18 children received a fake version performed by researchers who weren’t trained in reiki.

In the true reiki group, one child experienced low blood oxygen levels. But it’s thought that this was a negative placebo effect. And similar side effects haven’t been reported in other studies.

Increased tiredness

According to anecdotal reports, most people feel relaxed after a reiki session.

Others may feel unusually tired. Practitioners claim that this means your body is healing.

Allegedly, tiredness might be accompanied by other side effects, like:

Before scheduling a session, it’s important to consider the potential disadvantages of reiki. This will help make you a well-informed decision.

Possible drawbacks of reiki include:

Limited scientific backing

Although reiki has been practiced for many years, there’s insufficient evidence to prove its effectiveness. Most of the existing studies on reiki have shown inconsistent results.

Plus, science has yet to prove that the body’s energy field exists. Even if it does, no scientific techniques can measure how this energy might be transferred or balanced.

It’s unregulated

Reiki therapy lacks formal regulation. No one organization sets nationwide standards for:

  • education
  • training
  • credentials
  • certification

People without a background in healthcare can become reiki practitioners. Also, different practitioners can receive certification based on different requirements.

May not be covered by insurance

Reiki might be covered by health insurance if it’s part of another treatment that qualifies for coverage. For example, you may receive reiki during physical therapy that’s covered by insurance.

But if you visit a reiki practitioner, you’ll need to pay out of pocket. You can expect to pay anywhere from $25 to $100 or more, depending on the practitioner’s experience.

Some practitioners offer donation-based sessions. Reiki students might also provide low-cost options as they begin their practice.

Experiences vary

The reported benefits of reiki are inconsistent. And receiving reiki is a subjective experience. It’s difficult to predict how or what you’ll feel.

It’s said that people have better results when they’re more open to the potential of reiki. As a result, being skeptical of the practice could affect your experience.

Does not treat specific conditions

Reiki is not an alternative for medical treatment. It doesn’t treat any diseases or disorders. Instead, it aims to promote overall wellness.

If you have a disease or disorder, it’s still important to get appropriate medical treatment while getting reiki.

Reiki therapy has been practiced for about a century. Yet, it’s occasionally been associated with side effects like discomfort and tiredness. There’s also limited scientific evidence and regulation behind the practice.

Other potential disadvantages of reiki include inconsistent results and paying out of pocket. It also doesn’t specifically treat any conditions.

Reiki is a subjective experience, though, and you may want to give it a try. To find a reiki practitioner, ask friends or massage therapists for recommendations. Check the practitioner’s background and credentials. Make sure you feel comfortable around them before booking a session.