Episode 15 | Scientific Evidence Reiki is Better Than Placebo
Explore ground-breaking Reiki research that goes beyond skepticism and validates its effectiveness beyond the placebo effect.
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Episode 15: Scientific Proof Reiki is Better Than Placebo
Ep15_Scientific Proof Reiki is Better Than Placebo
[00:00:25] Amy Squires: Hello, everyone. Welcome back to the Holistic Health Show. I'm excited to have you join us again today for another guest episode. Today on the show, we have Sonia Zadrow. Sonia is a clinical psychologist and a PhD candidate at Vaughan University [00:01:00] focusing in energy, healing, and Reiki. Welcome to the show, Sonia.
[00:01:05] Amy Squires: Thanks, Amy. Wonderful to have you here. So today you're actually going to be presenting some of the research that you've been doing throughout your completion of your PhD.
[00:01:16] Sonia Zadro: Yeah, so as you can imagine you know, doing a PhD on energy medicine, energy healing, Reiki is a very alternative area, and it actually took me a very long time to find someone who was willing to supervise me.
[00:01:32] Sonia Zadro: And it, you know, as far as I know, I don't know whether there have been any others. Probably not but I could be wrong.
[00:01:39] Amy Squires: That's going to be my next question. Yeah okay.
[00:01:40] Sonia Zadro: Has it been done before? Yeah. So yeah, it took a really long time to find someone because, you know, you know, we're talking about an entire paradigm of healing medicine, however you want to refer to it.
[00:01:54] Sonia Zadro: That isn't you know, is at odds with the dominant biomedical model that our medical [00:02:00] system operates under. I wanted to do this because I was aware that there was research in this field and, and there was some good research in the field and no one seemed to know about it.
[00:02:11] Sonia Zadro: You know, I think 20 years ago, 15 years ago, when I was looking for a supervisor, I was aware of some research even back then and I rang many Academics, talking to them about it, asking them to supervise, and even they didn't seem to know about any of the research that was around at that time.
[00:02:28] Sonia Zadro: And finally, I did find someone professor, associate professor, Dr. Peter Stapleton at Bonds University, who's a leader in EFT research. Emotional freedom technique, she's done loads and loads of research in that, and she's a world leader in that research, and she I managed to convince her to supervise me and so I'm halfway through that PhD now and I've actually already published my first study already in a grade one journal, Frontiers journal, which is actually on PubMed, if you Google it, so, [00:03:00] That's the systematic review of the effectiveness of Reiki over placebo in treating mental health conditions.
[00:03:08] Sonia Zadro: In looking at energy healing, I needed to, because it's obviously such a big area, my supervisor said, you know, you need to focus on one particular field of one particular type of energy healing. You can't just do it on everything. So knowing that Reiki had been around for a very long time, I'd had some experience myself with Reiki.
[00:03:27] Sonia Zadro: I thought, why not? So I focused on Reiki and the very first study I've done, I'm doing three studies in the field of energy healing and Reiki. And the first one, it was basically just to look at the evidence. And, I guess the thing with energy medicine, energy healing because it doesn't fit the dominant biomedical paradigm people generally think it's, It works because we think it's going to work.
[00:03:52] Sonia Zadro: In other words, they think it works because it's a placebo effect. For those that don't understand what a placebo effect [00:04:00] is, it's basically the idea that when you take a sugar pill and someone says, here, have a panadol for your headache, and they give you a sugar pill and it works because you believe it's going to work. You believe that it's a panadol and your headache gets better. And that's the placebo effect. And the placebo effect is incredibly powerful. It changes our very biology. It changes our, you know, how our brain functions. They've done some extraordinary studies on the placebo effect. And so often people will be quite dismissive of energy medicine.
[00:04:31] Sonia Zadro: And even some complementary medicines, especially energy healing, because it's so sort of woo woo and just say, well, that's great, you know, that it works. But, you know, we all know it's probably just a placebo effect. So I thought, well, is there research out there to see whether Reiki is more than a placebo effect? And there is.
[00:04:49] Sonia Zadro: So what I did is I reviewed I did a very large review. I reviewed 11 different databases. I think it was 11, a lot anyway. And [00:05:00] found lots and lots of studies on the effectiveness of rachio, the placebo. But I had to only use studies that were quite rigorous scientifically. They had to have, for example outcome measures that were validated and reliable, they had to include a placebo, they had to have, you know, basically comply with a whole lot of scientific standards.
[00:05:21] Sonia Zadro: And those that did comply left me with 27, 27 randomized controlled trials that controlled for placebo. And I really want to point out that most randomized controlled studies, which are considered the gold standard in science Don't control for placebo. You know, I'm a psychologist. I'm a clinical psychologist.
[00:05:42] Sonia Zadro: When you do research on, for example, does cognitive behavior therapy work or you know, I'm a, I'm a trauma adult psychologist. I do work a lot with trauma. I work a lot with clinical depression and anxiety. I've been doing so for 25 years, so I'm very familiar with all the research and you can't really control [00:06:00] for placebo properly in those studies. You can't say, okay, let's do cognitive behavior therapy with this group and let's pretend to do cognitive behavior therapy with another group and see whether it works because you're pretending. It's just not really possible, so they usually use a waitlist control or they compare it with another study, which is still good research, but it's not really effectively controlling for placebo. So with the Reiki studies that did control for placebo, what they did was two or three ways, but the main way is that they get they get the people to send Reiki to recipients they might have, you know, 30 people receiving Reiki, and then what they do is they get they get another person to send pretend Reiki or what they call sham Reiki, so the people receiving the Reiki don't know whether they're getting real Reiki or whether they're getting pretend Reiki.
[00:06:56] Amy Squires: So I just have a question on that. As many people listening will know, [00:07:00] I'm a Reiki practitioner. So I'm curious, the people who were giving Reiki, okay, they were giving Reiki, so they'd been attuned, the people giving pretend Reiki, were they still attuned?
[00:07:09] Sonia Zadro: No. No. Right. They're not attuned. There was one study where they were, and that was actually discarded.
[00:07:16] Sonia Zadro: Actually, I think that study they did, the subjects weren't randomized properly. I had to discard it anyway, but I would have probably discarded it anyway, because I know that you can't, you can't have people doing sharing rate T who have been attuned because Because Reiki can flow even when you're not thinking about it on occasion, I have done Reiki, I have been attuned a very long time ago, I've never practiced it professionally, just something I've done with friends, family, you know so I have an idea of how it works and that kind of stuff.
[00:07:48] Sonia Zadro: So what you do is you compare this group of people who have received real Reiki with people who have received sham Reiki, you know, under, in a very controlled environment, sometimes they're not the people who are receiving [00:08:00] the Reiki or sham Reiki, then they're blindfolded, they can't hear anything, maybe they're not even touched, you know, their hands are just nearby.
[00:08:07] Sonia Zadro: So there's no other kind of things that could be influencing them, like body language and so forth, highly controlled. You know. Obviously, some studies control those things better than others, and if the outcomes show that Reiki is statistically significant in being more effective than the placebo group, then we can assume that the effect isn't the result of placebo, that it's not just because the person thinks it's going to work.
[00:08:35] Sonia Zadro: There are other criticisms of that to that, you know, if we get really, really scientific about it, we might say, Oh, well maybe the people sending the rate key, you know maybe, maybe it works because the people who send it believe that it works and that's affecting their electromagnetic fields and it's affecting the subjects electromagnetic fields.
[00:08:54] Sonia Zadro: And that's a good argument. I think it's worth it. That's worth considering. However, they have even [00:09:00] done two or three studies where they have given fake attunements to people. Oh, yeah. So they believe that they're doing, although that had a lot of methodological problems. And so it was discarded. In another study, it did work still, even when that happened, although it's only one study.
[00:09:17] Sonia Zadro: So there probably needed to be more But yeah, so they have really looked at this, there is some good research that really looks at this issue of, you know, is the placebo effect operating? And so, you know, when we look at the outcomes basically, you know, in, in looking at all these, these 27 studies what I did was I separated them into areas.
[00:09:40] Sonia Zadro: So I separated them into the studies which looked at depression, anxiety, stress, pain, blood pressure, and so forth. And then I, and then I actually divided them further because what I was finding was there was inconsistency in their results. And, and the reason for that [00:10:00] I found when I looked at it, and I'm surprised no one else had looked at it, is that when you actually look at, for example, take anxiety, right?
[00:10:09] Sonia Zadro: They were doing studies to see whether Reiki was effective for anxiety over placebo. They were doing it on people who weren't anxious to begin with. But when you look at their baseline anxiety scores on the, what's called a DASS or a a an SS t a i or whatever measure you are using, their baseline anxiety scores, were in the normal range.
[00:10:34] Sonia Zadro: And so you've gotta ask the question is someone who's. Not anxious to begin with going to be influenced by any treatment very much, you know, yeah, probably not Likewise for depression. There were a number of studies that looked at whether Reiki was effective at improving people Depression scores in people who weren't depressed or who people who weren't stressed or people with low blood pressure Why why [00:11:00] would it make a significant statistically significant difference?
[00:11:03] Sonia Zadro: And so that's exactly what I found. So when I separated The baseline scores from those who were, had clinical levels of anxiety, depression, stress, blood pressure, even pain, I saw a trend. We found that Reiki was more effective than placebo and there was a real trend for that. And there was actually, when you apply what you're calling, when you do a systematic review, you need to apply it's a very rigorous process.
[00:11:31] Sonia Zadro: You have to use what's called a Cochrane risk of bias tool, and you apply to a grade assessment. And so when you apply these really rigorous sort of scientific assessments to these studies, even though there weren't a large number of studies, there might have been between two and five studies per Each area when you apply all these rigorous standards, you still found a high level of evidence that Reiki was more effective than placebo for clinical anxiety, [00:12:00] for clinical depression.
[00:12:03] Sonia Zadro: The clinical levels of stress or high blood pressure, high and elevated blood pressure was a high level of evidence that Reiki was more effective than placebo. Even, even normal levels of stress, there was some evidence, a moderate level, low to moderate level of evidence. Basically, there was one study that showed Reiki was more effective than placebo and one didn't.
[00:12:24] Sonia Zadro: So there probably needs to be. More research on that. Acute pain so they did they looked at whether Reiki was more effective than placebo on people who had just undergone an operation of some kind, and they found that in all those studies, again, that it was more effective, and it wasn't just more effective, but where I've ranked the evidence high.
[00:12:46] Sonia Zadro: It wasn't just statistically significant, but you have in, in research what's called a large effect size. And those areas, so it's not just significant, it's not just real, the effect, it's a big effect. It's a [00:13:00] really big effect. So in all those areas that I ranked a high level of evidence, it wasn't just because it was all the studies showed significance.
[00:13:07] Sonia Zadro: It was because Most of the studies, if not all, had large effect sizes, there was a really big effect, if that makes sense. So so yeah, so, you know, certainly for clinical areas, such as stress, anxiety, depression high blood pressure. Acute pain, moderate to high to high level of evidence in all those areas.
[00:13:31] Sonia Zadro: Other areas, the effects were moderate or low, so for example, things like I think for salivary cortisol, reducing salivary cortisol And there was one other area where there was no evidence as well. So breathing rate, they found a moderate, no, breathing rate and salivary cortisol. There was none of the studies supported the effectiveness of Reiki over placebo.
[00:13:55] Sonia Zadro: Heart rate, heart rate variability, there was a moderate level of [00:14:00] evidence. Chronic pain or just chronic conditions. Low to moderate levels of evidence. You've got to keep in mind, too, that either means that Reiki isn't effective over placebo for those conditions or it may mean that there wasn't a big enough dose.
[00:14:17] Sonia Zadro: So you have to take into account, you know, maybe, you know, they needed multiple applications of Reiki or bigger doses, you know, that kind of thing. So you wouldn't rule them out completely at this stage, if that makes sense. So were
[00:14:32] Amy Squires: they done You know, was this, I guess, analysed or looked at after just one Reiki treatment or did they go through a course of Reiki treatments?
[00:14:42] Sonia Zadro: So it depends on which area you're looking at. So, for example, blood pressure, just, I think it was just a single treatment. Well, one study did multiple treatments and actually found that the effects were cumulative. So that the blood pressure improved even more and more over [00:15:00] time over, I think, six, six weeks, six or seven weeks.
[00:15:03] Sonia Zadro: But all the other studies on blood pressure it was just a single application. 30 to 45 minutes of Reiki improved blood pressure over placebo when, when the blood pressure was high to begin with. When it was not high to begin with, it only improved diastolic. Let me just check that. It only improved diastolic blood pressure.
[00:15:26] Sonia Zadro: It didn't improve systolic blood pressure. So the jury's out on that. But again, it's, do you need to use Reiki for blood pressure if your blood pressure is normal to begin with anyway? I
[00:15:35] Amy Squires: mean, are you really improving blood pressure? It's not really relevant. Yeah.
[00:15:39] Sonia Zadro: Yeah. Yeah. So, so yes, so blood pressure, only one application things like depression anxiety, it varied, you know, for some of the studies, for example, for anxiety I think one study only used one application and it reduced the anxiety of a placebo, [00:16:00] most of them used multiple applications over several weeks.
[00:16:04] Sonia Zadro: Likewise, for depression, it was multiple applications over several weeks to reduce clinical depression and stress as well multiple applications over several weeks. In fact, for normal stress it was multiple applications over several weeks and quite a high dose. I think it was 90 minute sessions.
[00:16:24] Sonia Zadro: It reduced even normal levels of stress. So it really varies and I guess that's something that the research, you know, obviously needs to control a bit better. They need to look at the dosage a bit more carefully when they... When they do the studies.
[00:16:40] Amy Squires: Yeah. And what does reducing something like normal levels of stress look like?
[00:16:44] Amy Squires: What, to me, reducing something that's normal is?
[00:16:49] Sonia Zadro: It would, all it would mean is that the, the average score before they have Reiki, which would still be in the normal range Drops, obviously, compared to [00:17:00] the average score after they have Reiki, has dropped significantly. When you apply a statistical significant method to analyze the the difference that there's less than 5 percent chance that could have, that would have happened by chance.
[00:17:16] Sonia Zadro: There's less than 5 percent that that would have happened by chance. That's what a statistical significant difference is. It's just a random, an arbitrary You know, the level of significance, which the scientific community sets at 5%, and if there's less than 5 percent chance that we're going to find that difference, they say it's statistically significant.
[00:17:38] Sonia Zadro: Right. And then, as I said, then you look at how large the effect is as well. And if the effect, if the effect size is more, is more than what's 0. 8, then it's a large, a very large effect. So, yeah, so that's what they found as well. And I guess the other thing to, to point out [00:18:00] as well is is that the most highly controlled studies of Reiki over placebo are the ones done on non human living systems.
[00:18:10] Sonia Zadro: So so for example, they've looked at Again, you know, these are really highly controlled studies because they can be, you know, you do it on cells and you do it on rats and things like that. And you don't expect the placebo effect to be operating with rats and cells, do you? You know, but even though you don't expect the placebo effect to be operating with rats and cells.
[00:18:31] Sonia Zadro: They still had a placebo group. They still, they still said, they still compared it in all these studies just to cover their bases with placebo Reiki, just to make sure because maybe the rats picked up on something, you know, I don't know how the cell could have, but anyway and they actually found in all these studies that Reiki was more effective than placebo.
[00:18:53] Sonia Zadro: So for example, even in the cells. Yeah, likewise with the cells. So for rats they found that Reiki was more [00:19:00] effective than placebo at reducing microvascular damage, so damage to the cells that was brought on by noise. It was, they found that it increased survival of cells that had been irradiated.
[00:19:14] Sonia Zadro: And in rats and, and there's a whole host of other findings they found. Another one was that it reduced pain after female dogs had an ovarian hysterectomy. So they did it on dogs as well. Wow. So they've done some
[00:19:29] Amy Squires: really... How do they, sorry, how do they, what is the word I'm looking for?
[00:19:33] Amy Squires: Determine this, the pain levels of the dogs before and after. That's
[00:19:38] Sonia Zadro: actually a really good question. And I, to be honest with you, I've got to be really frank, I can't remember the, how they determine the pain levels in, in the dogs. Cause that's a, an excellent question. I remember how they did other aspects of the experiment.
[00:19:51] Sonia Zadro: But, yeah, I can't remember now how they determined the pain levels. Maybe they measured cortisol or something in the blood or the stress hormone, I'm not sure, but [00:20:00] I'll, I'd have to check that one. Yeah. Yeah. That's all right. But but yeah, they have done a range of other studies which have been really interesting as well.
[00:20:10] Amy Squires: Hmm. And then what about the cells? So how did they? Determine that Reiki was better than placebo in, so was this in a cell, or do you mean in the cells in the rats?
[00:20:22] Sonia Zadro: So I guess they would have looked at the cells pre and post the Reiki and pre and post the placebo Reiki, and just, just measured the degree of damage to those cells somehow and then, and then analyzed whether that difference was statistically significant.
[00:20:41] Sonia Zadro: Okay. And likewise with heart rate homeostasis in the rats, they would have, you know, they would have measured their heart rate and looked at the differences in measurements. Yeah.
[00:20:55] Amy Squires: So it's looking promising.
[00:20:56] Sonia Zadro: Yeah, so that was really, it's, it's particularly, it's really [00:21:00] interesting because it's, it's very, it's so controlled, those sorts of, yeah studies.
[00:21:05] Sonia Zadro: Yeah.
[00:21:08] Amy Squires: So what I find interesting is that, so you search ten or eleven different databases, and then you came up with a certain amount of research, and it sounds like there's actually been, whether or not it's been you know, properly done or properly controlled research. There's been a lot of attempts at research for Reiki findings, and then so you've narrowed it down to finding those that fit this particular criteria
[00:21:35] Sonia Zadro: that support using control for placebo, so there's a load of more studies that don't control for placebo, but they do to some degree.
[00:21:42] Sonia Zadro: They might, for example. have had a waitlist control group, a lot of the other studies, but they haven't had a placebo control group. They haven't had people doing pretend or sham Reiki and comparing it with real Reiki. So I only included studies with the [00:22:00] placebo control group. There are a lot of other studies just with waitlist control or just a waitlist control?
[00:22:07] Sonia Zadro: Waitlist control is just a group of people that have no treatment. At all. Yeah. Okay. So the, you know, they're just that you get a group of depressed people and you give half of them Reiki and you give half of them nothing. Yeah. Which is what they do with therapy studies, psychotherapy studies. I've just looked at that and I only focused on adults although there was only one or two studies I came across that were focused on children.
[00:22:32] Sonia Zadro: And I only focused on hands on Reiki, not distant Reiki. Oh yeah. I guess I felt that. You know, given that we're already dealing with something that is, you know, very alternative, and people are really questioning that people would really question. I thought jumping to distant Reiki is probably a bit of a leap, you know, and I had to narrow my parameters.
[00:22:58] Sonia Zadro: What's that?
[00:22:59] Amy Squires: It would be interesting. [00:23:00] Have, did you come across?
[00:23:01] Sonia Zadro: They have, they have done research on distant Reiki and I have found studies that have found it, that have found it effective and it's easier to control the studies on distant Reiki too, because it's much easier to say to someone, yeah, we're sending you Reiki.
[00:23:15] Sonia Zadro: And you're not. And just don't send it you know, it's much easier to compare those people with the real Reiki receivers. So, so, yeah, you know, I mean, it's a, it's a, it's a whole different we're looking at a sort of, a skeptic would just be very dismissive of the field. So we have this thing called the dominant medical biomedical paradigm which is very sort of bottom up, you know, we go down to the organs, then we go to the cells and then we. you know, go deeper and deeper into smaller levels and try and find out the cause of things. Whereas we have this sort of emerging field now called biofield science which is the idea that health and wellness is not just determined by the [00:24:00] biomedical worldview of cells and, and particles and molecules and, and, you know, everything within the biomechanical system, but It's also another way of viewing it is, is top down.
[00:24:13] Sonia Zadro: So, it's this idea that, that any living system has an organizing energy field behind it. And that organizing energy field helps to regulate the system and helps to maintain the system and keep it healthy. So when you look at sort of energy medicine or energy healing, the idea is that it's affecting this thing called the biofield and helping to balance the biofield and regulate it and then that has a top down effect rather than a bottom up effect, which is what the biomedical sort of dominant paradigm tends to focus on. So I guess, you know, this sort of emerging field you know, it's new and it's still not accepted by mainstream science and [00:25:00] there's various reasons for that.
[00:25:01] Sonia Zadro: You know, it's one of the reasons is that it's still not completely well understood, still not properly understood in terms of the causal factors of the biofield. Some might think it could clash with the dominant paradigm. that it could, it might be inconsistent. Others say, well, why would it be inconsistent?
[00:25:20] Sonia Zadro: You know, it's, it's not mutually exclusive. It's still, it can work with the dominant paradigm. Another big, I think another big block behind it is that there are obviously spiritual associations with energy healing and even sometimes religious associations, which is obviously rejected by mainstream science.
[00:25:43] Sonia Zadro: And the other thing is, is even if you just put the spiritual and religious associations aside the idea of the biofield often has this idea that there's a life force, that the biofield is the life force behind consciousness. And that's an idea that's actually [00:26:00] historically been around for probably over a century.
[00:26:04] Sonia Zadro: And it's always been firmly rejected by modern medicine, that idea. So, you know, I guess what I'm trying to say is that, There's some really deep fundamental beliefs about the way we understand our world and that with the way we understand humans, that that the idea of energy medicine and energy healing challenges, and that are going to be obviously really big hurdles for, for, you know, scientifically minded people or people that subscribe to a very dominant biomedical way of thinking which are understandable, you know, totally understandable.
[00:26:45] Sonia Zadro: But I guess what I'm suggesting is that, look, you know, even if we don't fully understand the causes of something from a scientific perspective or a worldview that doesn't fit your worldview, the [00:27:00] research does provide a lot of evidence at this stage that These things are working when we apply the science to it, that they work over placebo.
[00:27:09] Sonia Zadro: And rather than just going, Oh, but they just can't because I don't understand how. It's like, well, the science is showing that there is quite a bit of evidence that they do at this stage. So why don't we look at why? Why not, you know, if they're helping people, why not use them? Especially when, you know, there is such a need for it.
[00:27:31] Amy Squires: So non invasive, you, we really don't like or we steer clear of what we don't understand.
[00:27:37] Sonia Zadro: I think it's when people, for some people doing something when they don't properly understand it they're not, they're not comfortable with it and that's their right, you know, that's their right, they're entitled to do that.
[00:27:47] Sonia Zadro: But I guess on a big, in the big scheme of things, , we're spending, , billions and billions of dollars, hundreds of billions of dollars internationally on every year. Here we have a particular [00:28:00] healing modality that as far as we know from the research is safe. As far as we know, it's, it's effective and it's not just a placebo effect.
[00:28:10] Sonia Zadro: It's even more than that and it's much less expensive, far less expensive than a lot of other options and why not use it at least as an adjunct? Why not use it as an addition and an additional supportive therapy to help people with whatever they're doing , with whatever they're doing in mainstream medicine.
[00:28:30] Sonia Zadro: It's gentle, it's non invasive, as far as we know, it's safe and the research is supporting it. As a psychologist with 25 years experience, I know there's some really good therapies out there. There's some great psychotherapies out there that are effective, but sometimes you have clients who just, They, who couldn't, who wouldn't want to access all the help they could get. And some clients, you know, their, their problems are really deeply entrenched. So why not [00:29:00] use other modalities to help them along as well as psychotherapy.
[00:29:05] Amy Squires: And we even see, I mean, I know in the United States. Reiki is across in hospitals across the country. I think it's something like over 800 of them.
[00:29:13] Sonia Zadro: Wow. Is it that much now? I,
[00:29:15] Amy Squires: I think it is, and I could be wrong, but I, I do think that that was the number I found at when I was looking it up a few weeks ago. And I mean, there's even the I think it's the Soliris Center over in Perth.
[00:29:28] Sonia Zadro: Yeah. St. John have got hospital over in Perth. Advertise using Reiki just as an option for outpatient care.
[00:29:37] Sonia Zadro: I think it's for their cancer patients.
[00:29:39] Amy Squires: It is. I think it's for anyone undergoing chemo, is it?
[00:29:42] Sonia Zadro: I'm not sure if they're undergoing chemo, but certainly for their outpatients. Services, they, they offer it as an option and I think it's also suggested on the in New South Wales Health in the, in their cancer pamphlets.
[00:29:57] Sonia Zadro: I have to double check that, but you know, so it's [00:30:00] sort of out there and there's an awareness around it. But I think. I think people just don't know a lot about it, or there's a resistance to it or there's a bit of a wariness or tentative to it, because it belongs to you know, because it's a type of energy healing and it's, you know, people see it as a bit woo woo, and, you know, all that kind of thing.
[00:30:20] Amy Squires: And a lot of people, what I've been hearing is people saying, you know, it's new, but it's actually really not, it's really... Reiki's been around for, you know, a long time.
[00:30:28] Sonia Zadro: Yeah. I mean, when was it? I can't remember now when.
[00:30:32] Amy Squires: Well, we just had a hundred years of Reiki. Yeah. Is it, is
[00:30:35] Sonia Zadro: it like a hundred years or something?
[00:30:36] Sonia Zadro: So it's been around for quite a while and it's spread throughout the globe and yeah, it's, it just hasn't spread. So you know, there's been time there in order to. get a sense of what this type of therapy does and, you know, whether it can, whether it's safe, whether it's effective, what kinds of [00:31:00] things it tends to help with.
[00:31:01] Sonia Zadro: And I think most people would generally say that Reiki is a very, very gentle, relaxing type of treatment.
[00:31:10] Amy Squires: I always enjoy my sessions.
[00:31:12] Sonia Zadro: Yes, I'm sure you do. So Yeah, so, you know, it's, I think it's it's certainly an option that is worth considering, you know? Certainly. With things like mental health with things like maybe blood pressure with things like pain, definitely, there's quite a lot of research on pain.
[00:31:33] Amy Squires: Symptom relief. And like you said, it's, you know, it's, it's non invasive, it's safe, it's, you know, it's not going to cause more harm. So.
[00:31:45] Sonia Zadro: And some of the studies not many, but some of the studies look at its long term effects too. So for stress, for blood pressure there is a little bit of research to suggest that the effects.
[00:31:58] Sonia Zadro: A long term [00:32:00] and certainly there was a really big study on blood pressure that, that, you know, suggested that it was the effects were not only long term but cumulative that the blood pressure reduced more and more every time over the weeks that it was done. It's really interesting, area to look at because I think it looks, it challenges the most fundamental questions of how we understand our health and the universe, I suppose, if you're a scientist and it's, it's for that reason, it's exciting. Yeah, yeah, I think it's exciting anyway.
[00:32:40] Amy Squires: Well, I do too. You know, having grown up with it, it's great to hear that there's research out there that supports it. Even though, you know, I've always known it works, it's been, you know, fundamental in my health and wellness and in many members of my family, so, but having the research to back that up, it's really nice, it's good, it's promising and [00:33:00] it just kind of helps you talk about it more confidently to other people, I think, you know, you can feel more.
[00:33:06] Sonia Zadro: I mean, I think that, you know, I think that if people can at least put things on their website that show, because people these days, they want the research, they want the evidence. So I think that if you can actually put it on your website, or if someone says, you know, tell me more about it, or how does it work, then it's really important, you know, to be able to say, well, actually there is research to support Reiki, and actually Not only to support it, but that it's actually more, more than a placebo effect.
[00:33:37] Sonia Zadro: There is some good research to support that. And that it's not just, you know, a moderate level of evidence at this stage. It's a moderate to high and sometimes high level of evidence even though there's not. You know, a lot of studies. So yeah, and they can go and read it themselves.
[00:33:56] Amy Squires: Yeah, absolutely.
[00:33:57] Amy Squires: Are there any studies ongoing now that you [00:34:00] know of? Or would you not really know that they're happening until they've been done?
[00:34:04] Sonia Zadro: Well, I mean, I guess when you do a study, you do have to register it often. And so if you went on one of the registers One of the one of the register sites to see what studies are going on.
[00:34:16] Sonia Zadro: You can have a look at that. And I guess one of the other things that I found which I'm incorporating into my PhD is, is that, you know, I guess it's one thing to look at the research, but I think it's important to get some, some objective feedback about, well. You know, we can sort of assume what people's attitudes are to Reiki and energy healing, but unless we have the research, we can't really be sure.
[00:34:48] Sonia Zadro: So my second study is actually on attitudes towards Reiki.
[00:34:52] Amy Squires: Yeah, I'm really interested to hear. Yeah, I
[00:34:55] Sonia Zadro: mean, when I did a literature review on this, honestly, there's virtually nothing on this [00:35:00] internationally. There's one study in England that touches on it. There's one study that touches on spiritual healing in Australia that's fairly old.
[00:35:10] Sonia Zadro: But there's not a lot out there. There is, since there are, there is a decent amount of research on health professionals attitudes towards complementary medicine. There's just not a lot in this area, particularly in Australia. So I did do a national study on just the general population, the general community's attitudes towards reiki, energy healing, and complementary medicine, and also health professionals.
[00:35:37] Sonia Zadro: attitudes. So I'm in the process of doing that at the moment. I mean so far the findings are heading in the direction of, I got the respondents to answer two questionnaires and a bunch of other questions. And so one questionnaire looked at what are your kind of basic beliefs about complementary medicine.
[00:35:59] Sonia Zadro: And [00:36:00] the other questionnaire was about your, your attitudes towards people who use energy healing. And what I've found is that there was a distinct difference between medical professionals and other health professionals in terms of their attitudes and beliefs around medicine and complementary medicine.
[00:36:25] Sonia Zadro: In other words, medical professionals have beliefs around healing and. and the body that are in line with the biomedical model and they're not very open to assumptions behind complementary medicine, more holistic ideas of healing, which is kind of to be expected, I guess. I mean, that's their background, that's their training.
[00:36:48] Sonia Zadro: But that was, that was different to what even psychologists, osteopaths, chiropractors You know, a range of other health professionals and, the other thing that I found was that [00:37:00] in terms of people's attitudes towards energy healers or people who use energy healing nurses and massage therapists have far more positive attitudes.
[00:37:09] Sonia Zadro: Yeah medical professionals have the most negative attitudes and psychologists and I think osteos have more negative attitudes than nurses and massage therapists. But I'm not, I'm not sure whether they differ to medical practitioners significantly. There was, but that was the trend. So. It'd be interesting to look at and compare, you know, what people's beliefs are around the research in energy healing and comparing that with the facts, I suppose, and how much research there actually is.
[00:37:48] Amy Squires: My husband, he did a program last year and one of the courses that he was involved with, it might've been Entrepreneurship . So he put out a [00:38:00] questionnaire on CAM. So complimentary alternative medicine. it went to our friends and then they shared it a little bit beyond.
[00:38:07] Amy Squires: And we sent it to some medical practitioners that we knew or, you know, allied health professionals, et cetera. And it was a variety of questions, kind of, I think, similar from the sounds of what you're saying on, you know, have you heard of it? Or what do you even think CHEM is? We provided a definition, but first we asked what they thought it was.
[00:38:25] Amy Squires: Yeah. And then, you know, what are your thoughts around it? Have you tried it? Would you? And the results were kind of, you know, it was anonymous, so you don't know who was who, but people could choose to put in if they were a medical health professional or if they weren't. And, yeah, the results were, in some cases, to be expected, but at the end, where they could input comments, it was, it was.
[00:38:48] Amy Squires: It's largely I don't really know enough about it to make a decision. Yeah. So, I found a lot of that was coming back in this, and I mean, like, it was a small sample pool that we had, but, [00:39:00] yeah, it was just, I don't know, I don't know, and I don't understand it, and...
[00:39:03] Sonia Zadro: Well, it's all about... ignorance, you know, and I don't mean that in a judgmental way.
[00:39:08] Sonia Zadro: It's just simply, it's just about people having access to information, which is why I'm doing the research I'm doing. People just don't have access to that information. Sometimes it's because they don't seek it out, which I think is common. But it's also because there's There's not a lot of information or they don't know how to share
[00:39:29] Amy Squires: interpreting information that you're getting, you know, because there's no sides Yeah, so what do you end up?
[00:39:35] Amy Squires: What's real? You know, what's a really
[00:39:37] Sonia Zadro: good point Amy? I mean, you know as I said when I did this research just my first study on the systematic review of effectiveness of rachiova placebo, you know someone Going in cold and looking at the research would have gone, oh, you know, there's all these inconsistent findings.
[00:39:54] Sonia Zadro: But it's only because I've had a background in psychology for 25 years, and I'm somewhat familiar with the [00:40:00] research. I can sort of look at it and go, well, hang on, why are they, why are they, you know, why are they looking at the effectiveness of Reiki in people, you know, for depression who have normal depression scores.
[00:40:12] Sonia Zadro: And has anyone actually checked their baseline scores and found out what range they're in? I mean, often they're quoted as being depressed in the title of the study. But when I've gone in and looked at the depression scores, they weren't in the depressed range. They're in the normal range. And they've even been included in other reviews as being depressed because no one's gone in and checked it.
[00:40:36] Sonia Zadro: So it's really important to to be aware of that. Yeah,
[00:40:41] Amy Squires: it's all well and good as well. Like you've said, you know, you can post the the research or the links on a website and which many people do. And that's great. But then when you get in, and you're looking at a research paper or charts and tables, I mean, Interpreting that, you know, in my very limited experience reading, you [00:41:00] know, diagrams and figures, you just get in there and you think, I have no idea what this is.
[00:41:04] Amy Squires: So, you glaze over it, and you take whatever information is that popped out.
[00:41:09] Sonia Zadro: You take for granted, and I probably take for granted, you know, When you do a psych degree and then you have to go on and do postgrad, you actually, well I did anyway, you have to do like five years of statistics. Yeah. It's really quite traumatic.
[00:41:24] Sonia Zadro: Couldn't stand it. Anyway so you know, you take that for granted and and you know what? You know, they, they usually have a, as you know, the abstract at the beginning of the research paper, which summarizes the findings, but it's might not be as obvious, you know, even if you read an abstract, you know, sometimes the findings aren't as obvious to the average person on the street, you know, even from reading an abstract, so.
[00:41:49] Sonia Zadro: And as, as I've just pointed out, you know, then when you go and analyze the study, it's a whole nother can of worms. People think that it's just very black and white. Oh yeah, they found this or they found, it's not like that at all. [00:42:00] It's
[00:42:00] Amy Squires: really quite complicated. Yeah. In my undergrad, I did a few psych courses.
[00:42:05] Amy Squires: I mean, it was very intro and one of them was learning how to read these papers. And I remember the assignments that we had, it was always a group project. The assignments would have only five questions. You really felt like you were in kindergarten, like, you know, cause the question seemed so simple, almost to the point of what is this color?
[00:42:26] Amy Squires: You know, it seemed like it should be that obvious and that she would say on page 1. In the abstract, what is the person, you know, what was the main objective or I don't know, it was a really easy question and our group would mull over that. And we, you know, you didn't always get it right because it was, they're tough, you know, in this diagram, what is the, you know, I don't even know the language anymore to, to really tell you what the question was.
[00:42:51] Amy Squires: But what I'm saying is, it seems so simple, but when you got in there and looked at it, it absolutely wasn't. You know, it's a skill, I think, for sure, [00:43:00] reading those papers and interpreting them. So it's great to have someone, you know, like yourself on the show who can explain it to us and say, these are the findings, you know, I've put in the work.
[00:43:10] Amy Squires: And I mean, it was over
[00:43:12] Sonia Zadro: quite a long time. Yeah, and I guess another thing too, I mean, I was listening to a podcast. I think it might have been two years ago now. And it was quite interesting because it was it was, Hosted by a medical practitioner, I think she was a GP, and she was interviewing another GP, and it was, and they were talking about Reiki, and, and they were saying, yeah, no, it's great, you know, Reiki is great, and, and I think the host was saying, well, you know, Even if it is a placebo effect, it's still helping.
[00:43:41] Sonia Zadro: So why not we, why not use the placebo effect? And that's another view people take. It's like, well, why everyone, why is everyone sort of saying the placebo effect is so bad? You know, why don't we use it? It can be just sort of, as I said, just written off as a placebo. And it's really important that we, [00:44:00] that we actually work out what is going on because people make big decisions.
[00:44:06] Sonia Zadro: You know, if we just sort of write it off as a placebo. Then it's very unlikely that You know, a lot of stakeholders are going to invest in it, like hospitals and so forth or insurance companies, you know whereas if we can establish, you know, to what extent it isn't a placebo, then it's really has, it has implications for a lot of other things too.
[00:44:26] Amy Squires: Yeah, certainly. So are you going to do a study on distant healing?
[00:44:33] Sonia Zadro: Not as part of my PhD. I don't know what... What I'll do when I finish my PhD, but I'm just, I've done the review, I'm doing the attitudes study and then the third study will be, at the moment I'm considering looking at hospitals which have integrated Reiki into their programs and just talking to them about [00:45:00] how they do that you know, whether it's been accepted or not.
[00:45:04] Sonia Zadro: Bye. You know, just the whole process of going about that and whether they've, whether, you know, obviously patients have found it. Very beneficial, whether it's improved their outcomes, all that kind of stuff so that, you know, we can sort of find a way forward for making a Reiki accessible to those who are comfortable
[00:45:25] Sonia Zadro: using it.
[00:45:26] Amy Squires: I'd be interested to hear, you know, how these hospitals would have a, you know, gotten funding and approval to, to open Reiki, I guess, clinics or centers or. Yeah, within the hospital. I'd be really interested to know more about that. Sure.
[00:45:40] Sonia Zadro: Yeah, definitely. I mean, you can do that with research. So. Yeah, they've obviously they've obviously done some research to have achieved it.
[00:45:49] Sonia Zadro: So yeah.
[00:45:51] Amy Squires: Well, you'll have to come back on the show when you're done these these next two and then share your further findings. I'm very, very keen to hear
[00:45:59] Sonia Zadro: more. [00:46:00] No worries. I'd love to, Amy.
[00:46:04] Amy Squires: Well, thank you very much. I'm really happy that we were able to chat about this today. I have As you know, some people know we've chatted about this previously when we met through Reiki Australia.
[00:46:16] Amy Squires: But it's always nice to hear it again and just not be overwhelmed by all the information. It's breaking it down and really understanding what's going on in the study. So thank you for doing all that work. I'm sure it's no worries. Taking lot of your time, . It was a lot of work. It's appreciated.
[00:46:32] Sonia Zadro: Yeah. I have to say it's, yeah, it's my pleasure and, and I, yeah, and as I said, it's just, I think it's really important that people are informed and it's, for me, it's not just about making energy healing accessible to other people and informing people about energy healing, but it's also about making people think about the very, you know, their most fundamental beliefs about the world you know, and there's, I've got no judgment [00:47:00] about anyone's beliefs but I just think that you It's really, it's really interesting when you look at the research, things like energy medicine and that the, you know, that there's evidence that it does, it is effective over placebo and so forth, that it really does make you question fundamental beliefs about the way we see the world and the way we see health and the medical model, you know, and obviously the medical model is, is Is brilliant.
[00:47:27] Sonia Zadro: Obviously, we wouldn't believe couldn't live without that. You know, it saves lives all the time. I'm very grateful for it. But. When we find research like this it does throw up the questions of maybe we need to expand that view. Maybe we need to incorporate and expand how we understand health on human beings.
[00:47:48] Amy Squires: And just offering everyone all the options when it comes to managing their health. Yeah. All right. Well, thank you. I would love to share underneath this video [00:48:00] where, you know, if somebody wants to read the research that you've done or find out more about you or even ask you a question, how might they do that?
[00:48:08] Sonia Zadro: Yeah. So if they have any questions, probably the best contact is just my email. SonjaZadro at gmail. com would be the easiest. Yep. It's firstname.lastname@example.org. And in terms of the paper that I just published, that was, the part that was published was only on mental health very long. You might just want to read the summary, but that was published in Frontiers Journal.
[00:48:39] Sonia Zadro: But if you actually put in Google Sonia Zadro, S O N I A Z A D R O and Reiki, the paper comes up under, in PubMed. So so for those interested, yeah,
[00:48:50] Amy Squires: yeah, definitely. All right, well, I will link that and thank you very much Sonia for joining me today. Thank you for asking me awesome And thank you all for listening.
[00:48:59] Amy Squires: Hope we [00:49:00] will see you again next time. Bye for now
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Resources mentioned in this episode
Information on how they measured pain in female dogs after Reiki. Two ways is that they use a standardized scale designed for dogs assessed by independent observers of the dogs for signs of pain. They also note if those receiving reiki wanted less pain meds as indicated by their behaviour.
Here's part of the abstract and the part where they address that question:
All dogs were evaluated for pain using short-form Glasgow composite measure pain scale (CMPS-SF) and visual analog scale (VAS) before (M0) and 2 (M2), 4 (M4), 8 (M8),
12 (M12), and 24 hours (M24) after administration of PAM. Comparing the CMPS-SF scores between the groups, at M2 Reiki scores
were lower than those of the Placebo and at M4 those in the Reiki were lower than those of the Control or Placebo groups. Comparing the
VAS scores, at M4 and M8, Reiki scores were lower than those of the Control or Placebo groups. Additional analgesia (morphine 0.2 mg.kg-1
intramuscularly) was administered to three bitches in Control and to four bitches of the Placebo. Reiki did not require additional opioid
analgesia in the postoperative period. It was concluded that Reiki therapy provided analgesic effect and contributed to improve postoperative
comfort of bitches submitted to elective OVH.
On the day of the surgical procedure,
all dogs were evaluated using two pain assessment
scales, the short-form Glasgow composite measure
pain scale (CMPS-SF – REID et al., 2007) and the
visual analog scale (VAS – SRITHUNYARAT et
al., 2016). Each dog was assessed by two trained
observers blinded to the protocol. Pain assessors
made their assessment individually, one that a time,
in these sequence: 1) observed the animals in the cage
for 5 minutes; 2) opened the cage and observed the
behavior and how the bitches walked in the room; 3)
noted the VAS score; 4) palpated near the surgical
wound and on the flanks and observed animals’
behavior; 5) noted the CMPS-SF score.
RESOURCES FROM THIS EPISODE Sonia Zadro
What I used to record this episode