Scientific Research about Reiki

As Reiki becomes a more common healing modality in our society, many people wonder exactly what it is, how it works, and what evidence exists to show its effectiveness. For an introduction to Reiki, take a look at this short film that includes testimonials from practitioners and clients.

Reiki works by tapping into the human body’s electrical and magnetic fields. Our heartbeat is regulated by an electrical field that can be measured by an ECG or EKG, our brain produces a lower-level electrical field, and every cell in our body creates small amounts of electricity which contribute to a magnetic field, due to the positive and negative charges of the outer and inner cell walls. When you go to get an MRI scan, the internal mechanism producing the images of soft tissue is your body’s magnetic field (Thrane & Cohen, 2014). 

The job of a Reiki practitioner is to harness the client’s energy field and help move energy throughout the body to alleviate stuck points or energy blockages. Practitioners don’t cause the healing, they simply serve as a channel for the energy to move in the client. Many clients report feeling great relaxation and a release of tension through Reiki.  

McManus (2017) synthesized the findings of various studies on the effectiveness of Reiki compared to placebo treatment, and came to a few conclusions:

  • Reiki is a complementary therapy that is safe and gentle enough for fragile clients, illustrating its benefits in hospitals and hospice settings. 

  • 5 studies showed evidence that Reiki is better than placebo for inducing a physically relaxed state. Physiologically, Reiki reduces resting heart rate, increases heart rate variability, and lowers blood pressure. 

  • 3 studies provided evidence that Reiki can help people manage chronic conditions, as weekly Reiki sessions for up to 8 weeks resulted in reduced anxiety/depression and increased self-esteem and quality of life. 

Charkhandeh, Talib, and Hunt (2016) conducted a study on Iranian adolescents to assess the effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) versus Reiki on mental health outcomes, and concluded that both treatments effectively improved depression scores. While CBT had a significantly larger treatment effect than Reiki, the authors urge practitioners to value the way Reiki enhances treatment outcomes, and highlights that Reiki could serve as an effective intervention for individuals who may not seek out CBT or other mental health therapies. 

If you’re curious about Reiki, consider reaching out to our Reiki practitioner, Jessica Franzen, at 


Charkhandeh, M., Talib, M. A., & Hunt, C. J. (2016). The clinical effectiveness of cognitive behavior therapy and an alternative medicine approach in reducing symptoms of depression in adolescents. Psychiatry Research, 239, 325-330. 

McManus, D. E. (2017). Reiki Is Better Than Placebo and Has Broad Potential as a Complementary Health Therapy. Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, 22(4), 1051-1057. 

Thrane, S., & Cohen, S. M. (2014). Effect of Reiki Therapy on Pain and Anxiety in Adults: An In-Depth Literature Review of Randomized Trials with Effect Size Calculations. Pain Management Nursing, 15(4), 897-908.

The Link between Inflammation and Depression

The Link between Inflammation and Depression

Depression is one of the most common mental disorders, and can significantly affect one’s ability to carry out daily tasks and find enjoyment in life. One in ten adults in the United States face depression in a given year. There are many options for treating depression, including psychotherapy, antidepressant medications, and acupuncture, but few people are aware of another treatment entry-point: addressing inflammation.

Research shows that inflammation can worsen depressive symptoms or even lead to depression in some individuals. When our bodies are confronted with viruses, toxins, and bacteria, our immune system responds by sending cells, tissues, and proteins into attack mode. The result of this attack on the foreign entity in the body is inflammation. You might be familiar with inflammation of an injured body part, for example, that becomes hot, red, and swollen. In other cases, though, your whole body system becomes inflamed, which results in changes to your physical, behavioral, and cognitive health. 

A great defense against depression and way to increase overall health is to reduce inflammation.

Here are a few ways to do this:

1. Reduce your stress levels by practicing deep breathing, getting good sleep, and listening to your needs.

2. Be intentional about food choices: increase anti-inflammatory foods like berries, leafy greens, olive oil, almonds, and fish. Try to avoid things like soda, alcohol, refined sugars, empty carbs (pasta, breads, etc) and fried foods. 

3. Get moving: physical activity like talking a brisk walk, stretching while watching tv, playing with your kids outside, and doing yoga can help fight inflammation. 

4. Talk with your healthcare provider about incorporating supplements like omega 3 and probiotics, which have been shown to normalize stress-induced inflammation. 

If you face an immune disorder, be aware that depressive symptoms may co-occur. Similarly, if you struggle with depression, be careful to avoid things that could trigger your immune response. The more you know about how your body reacts to stress and inflammation, the more you can take good care of yourself. 


Azab, M. (2018). The Brain on Fire: Depression and Inflammation. Retrieved from

Hope for Depression. Depression Facts. Retrieved from

National Institute of Mental Health. Major Depression. Retrieved from

Rodriguez, T. (2018). Probiotics, Depression, and the Role of Inflammation. Retrieved from

Wei, M. (2017). New Research Shows Depression Linked with Inflammation. Retrieved from

Artificial Food Color + ADHD

Living Dye Free

By: Bella Sakai

Most of us love bright and colorful things, especially when it comes to food. Unfortunately, artificial food coloring (AFC) changes more than just the color of the food. AFC has been positively correlated to hyperactivity in children. The most common symptoms of food dye intolerance in children are the same symptoms recognized in people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Because of this, prescription medications (that also commonly contain artificial dyes) are being prescribed to children with food dye intolerance to treat symptoms that could be fixed through simple diet changes. The ADHD epidemic in the United States has led to the surprising statistic proving 7.5% of children aged 6 – 17 years are taking prescription medication for emotional or behavioral difficulties. This is equivalent to approximately 4,510,000 children. Not only has AFC been linked to behavioral changes in children but it can also affect adults causing fatigue and restlessness. Scientific studies involving animals have linked these food dyes to organ damage, cancer, and birth defects.

You may be wondering what exactly are in these dyes that make up the products on the market. Artificial food dyes are a set of chemicals used to enhance the appearance of processed foods. AFC was originally manufactured from coal tar however, this did not sit well with consumers so most synthetic food dyes today come from petroleum or crude oil (which is also used to make motor gasoline and fuel oils for heating and electricity). Because of the harmful effects that come from AFC, many countries (such as Austria, Finland and Norway) have banned the use of them all together. In the U.K., the color in a McDonalds strawberry comes from real fruit and in the United States, food coloring is incorporated to enhance the bright colors. So, why do we use these dyes in our food if they have no nutritional value? According to the Food and Drug Administration, color additives are used for many reasons including, to offset color loss due to exposure to light, temperature and storage conditions, to enhance colors that occur naturally, and to provide color to colorless foods and make them more “fun”. Another main reason is because the cost of natural food coloring such as turmeric, beets, matcha, and blueberries are far more expensive than dye.

            In the United States, 90% of food dyes that are used and consumed are Red 40 and Yellow 5. Red 40 is commonly used in candy, baked goods, soft drinks and many other products. The main health concerns that are related to Red 40 are hyperactivity, lymphomas, and chromosomal damage. Yellow 5 is another commonly used dye in the U.S. Products that may contain Yellow 5 are processed cheeses, pasta, banana peppers and pickles. The reported concerns surrounding this dye are aggression, violent behavior, insomnia, and other behavioral affects. Yellow 6 has shown similar results also including eczema. Red 3 is a dye mostly found in sausage and meat products. The FDA tried to ban Red 3 due to the neurochemical, chromosomal, and thyroid concerns, however their attempt failed.

While the effects of AFC may be startling, it’s never too late to implement small changes into your daily routine. The first way to live a more dye-free lifestyle is to recognize the common places where artificial food dyes can be found. Food is a familiar place to look for AFC however, AFC is also an ingredient commonly found in household items, medications, pet food, and cosmetic products.

Below you will find a list of commonly used products that contain AFC:


Breakfast cereals


Fruit snacks


Salad dressing


Ice cream

Nacho cheese

Pasta sauce

Jams and jellies


Pet Food


Fruit juice

Sports drinks



Flavoring syrup

Powdered drink mix


Pain relievers

Cough syrup

Prescription drugs

Fluoride treatment

Allergy medications








Hair dye

Shampoo & conditioner



Body wash

Make up  

Another easy way to reduce contact with AFC is to read labels and ingredients before purchasing new items for your home. Cooking with natural food dye is an option for maintaining a colorful dish without the harmful effects of AFC. It’s important to remember that naturally colored food may not be as bright or concentrated in color as processed foods and if food is naturally colored, the taste may be different than what you are used to. Making your own homemade food coloring may integrate beets, carrot juice, turmeric, liquid chlorophyll, purple sweet potatoes, cocoa powder and other natural ingredients. Researching companies and grocery stores such as Whole Foods, Fresh Thyme, and local farmers’ markets that provide a variety of organic products will make shopping for dye and additive free products more accessible.

Lastly, if you’re worried about whether the dye is affecting you or your child, implementing the Feingold diet may be an insightful regimen. This diet was developed by Dr. Ben F. Feingold who did extensive research on the link between food additives and behavior. The Feingold diet temporarily eliminates foods containing certain food additives (in this case, food coloring) and reintroducing the product if no positive results occur. Starting with a specific dye in mind may make this transition easier. For example, eliminating Red 40 contact and consumption for two-weeks rather than removing food dye from your diet altogether. This will also help you recognize the specific effects of each dye.

Going cold turkey could be challenging when so much of our products contain AFC, and we all know sometimes it’s just too hard to resist the bright pink doughnut with rainbow sprinkles. Living dye free can help you discover any intolerance or allergy that you may not have known you had and implementing small changes to our diet can uncover pathways to optimal overall health.




Arnold, L. E., Lofthouse, N., & Hurt, E. (2012). Artificial food colors and attention-deficit/hyperactivity symptoms: conclusions to dye for. Neurotherapeutics: the journal of the American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics9(3), 599-609.


Eating with your eyes: The Chemistry of Food


What is the Feingold program? The Feingold Association of the United States


Food Doesn’t’ Have to Wear Make Up


Potera C. (2010). The artificial food dye blues. Environmental health perspectives118(10).


U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2010). Overview of Food Ingredients, Additives and Colors.