Painful Diabetic Neuropathy

Impact of an alternative approach

  1. Elena A. Gillespie, BS12,
  2. Brenda W. Gillespie, PHD3 and
  3. Martin J. Stevens, MD12
  1. 1Division of Medical Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, U.K.
  2. 2Department of Internal Medicine, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, U.K.
  3. 3University of Michigan Center for Statistical Consultation, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Martin J. Stevens, MD, Division of Medical Sciences, The Medical School, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, U.K. B15 2TT. E-mail: m.j.stevens{at}

Painful diabetic neuropathy (PDN) can be refractory to conventional pharmacologic therapy (1–3), which may have significant side effects. Reiki is a hands-on therapy based on the theoretical existence of a bioenergy field intrinsic to the human body (4). Reiki practitioners believe that this bioenergy field can be altered by a trained practitioner and that this can ameliorate disabling symptoms. However, its therapeutic efficacy remains unclear (5). This trial therefore assessed the efficacy of Reiki therapy to alleviate pain and improve mobility and quality of life in subjects with type 2 diabetes and PDN.


A total of 207 subjects with type 2 diabetes and PDN were recruited. Analgesics including anticonvulsants, tricyclic antidepressants, and nonsteroidal antiflammatory agents were permitted and equally distributed across groups, but no dosing adjustments were allowed. Subjects were stratified according to age, diabetes duration, diabetes control, and recruitment site. Written informed consent and ethical approval was obtained.

The study design was a randomized, semidouble–blind, placebo-controlled, 12-week trial. Subjects were randomized into one of three treatment groups (Reiki, mimic Reiki, or usual care) in a 1:1:1 fashion. Mimic practitioners were actors trained to mimic Reiki practitioners in style of practice. Reiki was applied as previously described (6). Practitioners …

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