Friday, January 21, 2011

Reiki Healing for Alzheimer’s Patients


Reiki is a natural, gentle, powerful, yet non-invasive method of healing that is passed from practitioner to client by means of gentle touch. The Usui System of Reiki is named after its founder, Dr. Mikao Usui.  Through oral history, we know that Dr. Usui was an educator in Kyoto in the late 1800's. He began an investigation into the healing phenomena of history's greatest spiritual teachers. Through his travel, study, research, and meditation, he developed the healing practice of Reiki and spent the rest of his life applying and teaching this method.

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Mikao Usui's work continued in pre-war Tokyo at a clinic run by Chujiro Hayashi. A patient, Mrs. Hawayo Takata of Hawaii, recovered from her serious ailments at Hayashi's Reiki clinic, and became his first known western student. Mrs. Takata played an integral role in the spread of Reiki.  She practiced and taught Reiki throughout the Canada and the United States from 1937 to her death in 1980. 

The Usui System of Reiki Healing has spread through an oral tradition of teaching, sharing information, and exchanging treatments. Reiki is not something that can be learned by reading a book, but it rather something to experience by receiving a treatment, taking a class, and talking with Reiki practitioners, students, and masters.

Reiki Therapy and Alzheimer’s

The results of a recent IARP survey (International Association of Reiki Professionals) of American hospitals indicated that many major hospitals are now using Reiki for its therapeutic benefits both pre- and post-surgery, and for patients suffering from stress and other disorders such as anxiety, sleeplessness, pain, nausea, and fatigue. Reiki has been found to be beneficial in multiple healing aspects, not only on a physical level, but also on psychological, emotional, and spiritual levels as well. Utilizing life force energy, the component of which we are all made, it enhances the body’s natural power to heal and maintain itself. Not only can it be used to promote healing of virtually any illness, it has been used to mend bone and tissue and aid with the side effects of anesthesia, radiation treatment, and chemotherapy. It has also been found to reduce the need for medication and shorten hospital stays. Because this diverse energy is such an effective, integrative medical tool, it is being used in many major hospitals, clinics and other health care facilities around the world with great success.

Therese Silva Johnson is a certified gerontologist (the study of the phenomenon of aging) who was the owner-operator and administrator of a six-bed, 24-hour care home that specializes in the care of Alzheimer’s (dementia) patients. Johnson notes that initial symptoms begin subtly. An individual may show signs of personality change, memory loss, poor judgment, mood swings, or agitation. Initiative lessens and the ability to learn new things becomes difficult. As the disease progresses, victims develop difficulties with speech, communication, movement, and coordination. In the latter stages total confusion and disorientation result in the patient having to rely completely on a caregiver for daily function. The brain continues to degenerate and ultimately results in great difficulty walking, talking, swallowing, controlling bladder and bowel function, etc. As a result, victims can become quite frail and prone to infections such as pneumonia. These conditions of course, are extremely distressful not just for those afflicted, but for caregivers as well.

Johnson began employing short Reiki treatments lasting roughly 10 to 20 minutes. She would administer them as needed, for example at mealtime to facilitate feeding and cooperation with caregivers. She found patients became compliant and relaxed. As she experimented with these treatments she noted that although the disease progressed, her patients did not have to suffer the traditional degree of symptoms of anxiety, agitation, pain, and physical discomfort. Pacing and wandering were drastically reduced. Paranoia began to subside. The mere placing on of hands allowed patients to become completely relaxed, more present, and lucid. Wounds healed in half the time with daily 5-10 minute Reiki treatments. Johnson found that even those patients who normally resisted different kinds of touch (bathing, dressing, grooming, etc.) welcomed and even asked for Reiki. Reiki can even be given as a long distance treatment for those with special needs.

Excited by the successful results Johnson was obtaining, she decided to spread the news of the Reiki technique by developing an Alzheimer’s Reiki research program. She presently is practicing Reiki full-time to develop a concise Reiki therapy plan to be used by Alzheimer’s caregivers. The purpose of this plan is to benefit Alzheimer’s patients and those who care for them by reducing or eliminating deleterious symptoms to extend the integrity of the afflicted. In this way, a higher quality of life is created for both patients and caregivers. With the use of Reiki therapy, Johnson has already enjoyed a great deal of success in reversing and/or arresting Alzheimer’s disease in a select number of patients. For Alzheimer’s patients, her research is dedicated to fostering the kind of care that will increase independent living and include the return of cognition, mobility, and socialization. Johnson also found that the limitlessness of treating with Reiki can also be useful to individuals who may suffer from similar symptom such as those who are challenged by obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, or mental illness.


Reiki practitioners believe that beneficial effects are obtained from a "universal life energy" that practitioners channel to patients, providing strength, harmony and balance to the body and mind. Reiki aims to treat health problems and to enable patients to feel enlightened, with improved mental clarity, well-being and spirituality. Reiki is sometimes administered to people who are dying, with the goal of instilling a sense of peace. Reiki masters believe that all living beings are affected by universal life energy, and animals may be treated in the same manner as humans.

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It has been proposed that Reiki can lower heart rate and blood pressure, boost the immune system, alter hormone levels, stimulate endorphins and affect skin temperature and blood hemoglobin levels. However, these properties have not been well studied or clearly demonstrated in scientific studies.

In Reiki treatments, practitioners position their hands in 12 to 15 different positions, which are held for two to five minutes each. They may place their hands directly on a clothed patient or hold their hands one to two inches above the patient. Practitioners believe that hand positions can cover all of the body systems within 30 to 90 minutes. The number of sessions varies based on the judgment of the practitioner. Participants have reported warmth, tingling, sleepiness, relaxation or invigoration during Reiki.

Sometimes a technique called sweeping is used at the beginning of a session; sweeping involves the practitioner passing hands over the patient. This technique is proposed to allow the practitioner to detect areas of energy disruption, imbalance or blockage and allows the practitioner to cleanse patients of negative feelings, emotions or physical burdens.

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Reiki Application

A Reiki session includes placing the hands on positions around the body. Each position is held from 3 to 5 minutes and the sessions last from about 20 minutes to an hour.

Example of the Reiki technique helping heal and balance energy patterns on all levels for Alzheimer’s patients:

1. Have the client lie on their back on a Reiki table.
2. Have them cross their arms with the left wrist crossing over the top of the right wrist.
3. Also have them cross their legs in the opposite way with the right ankle crossing over the top of the left ankle.
4. Draw the mental/emotional symbol on your hands. Then place your hands on both sides of the head with the base of the hands touching at the middle of the crown and the thumbs on the forehead and pointing down toward the feet.
5. Treat this way for 20 minutes.
6. Then have them switch the ankles and the wrists the other way.
7. If more than one person is giving Reiki, then the other person can place their hands on the places where the ankles or wrists are crossed.

You can treat yourself with this technique by crossing your legs the same way as above, and crossing the wrists over the crown chakra with the hands and fingers pointing toward the ears.

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Points to Consider about Reiki Therapy

It is important to keep the following points in mind while considering Reiki therapy.
  • Reiki should not be used as a replacement for conventional care.
  • The time to consult a doctor about a medical problem should not be delayed.
  • Health care providers should be informed about any complementary and alternative practices used.
  • It is good to know about the Reiki practitioner’s training and experience.
  • Checking on the cost of treatment is essential, since these could vary from fees to no charge at all.
  • Reiki has not been well studied scientifically, but there are some research studies published on its use for various health conditions.

Sources and Additional Information:

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