A recent study found that a small group of people who received 10 minutes of reiki during intravenous administration of conscious sedation needed less meperidine, a pain-relieving medication, during screening colonoscopy. However, the majority of people involved in the study who received reiki needed as much meperidine as those who did not receive reiki before the screening colonoscopy.

The study, “Reiki as a Pain Management Adjunct in Screening Colonoscopy,” involved 60 patients, ranging in age from 50 to 60 years, with a mean age of about 54 years, about half of whom were male.

Thirty of these patients served as the control group via a retrospective chart review. These 30 patients underwent a screening colonoscopy before the study period, receiving intravenous conscious sedation without reiki. The researchers reviewed the charts for these 30 patients to establish baseline average doses of meperidine used during screening colonoscopy without reiki.

The other 30 patients agreed to receive reiki for 10 minutes, from a Reiki Master Level III, at the same time a nurse administered intravenous conscious sedation, which occurred just before the insertion of the colonoscope. Twenty-five of these patients received authentic reiki, and five of these patients received placebo reiki.

“The reason for the placebo reiki was to blind the registered nurse and gastroenterologist to which treatment was being given to the patient, so as not to influence the administration of medication,” state the study’s authors.

The only outcome measure for this study was the amount of meperidine delivered for pain relief during screening colonoscopy. According to the researchers, the nurse administering sedation gives incremental doses of medication depending on the patient’s level of pain throughout the procedure.

Results of the research revealed no statistically significant differences in the amount of meperidine used during screening colonoscopy between the placebo reiki and authentic reiki groups or between the authentic reiki and control groups.

However, in the reiki group, four of the 25 patients, or 16 percent, received less than 50 milligrams of meperidine—three received 25 milligrams and one received 37.5 milligrams. In contrast, no patients in either the control group or the placebo reiki group received less than 50 milligrams of the pain reliever.

“Reiki may have the potential to decrease the amount of medication used to sedate patients,” state the study’s authors. “Although this study showed the indication to be small, 16 percent of patients needing less medication is an indication that reiki may assist with pain management for patients undergoing screening colonoscopy.”

The researchers suggest a larger study to better detect differences in the amount of medication used and more accurately determine the effect of reiki on pain management.


Authors: Alda L. Bourque, Mary E. Sullivan and Michael R. Winter.

Sources: Boston Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts; Data Coordinating Center, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts. Originally published in the September/October issue of Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates (2012), 35(5), 308-312.