Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the Advertising Standards Authority.

This section should be read in conjunction with the entry on Health: Therapies (General)

What is Reiki?

CAP understands that Reiki is based on the principle of transferring energy through the palms of the hands on or near the body.

To date, neither CAP nor the ASA has seen evidence to support claims that Reiki can have a physical healing effect on the body. If marketers wish to claim that it does, they should hold robust clinical evidence (Rule 12.1). See CAP Guidance on Substantiation for health, beauty and slimming claims.

What claims are likely to be acceptable?

Practitioners of Reiki may make claims for the emotional and spiritual effects of the therapy, their professionalism and therapy surroundings. They may also highlight the relaxing nature of Reiki, its meditative qualities, improvement in a feeling of overall wellbeing and an improved sense of self. Other descriptive aspects about the therapy in practice can be included in advertising as could the foundations of Reiki, for example, that it was developed in Japan by Buddhist Mikao Usui and teachers direct ‘lineage’ to him.

See Guidance on Health Therapies and Evidence QA (Sept 2011)

What types of claim should marketers avoid completely?

Marketers should not discourage essential medical treatment for conditions which should be carried out under the supervision of a suitably qualified healthcare professional (Rule 12.2).

In 2011, the ASA upheld a complaint on a marketer’s website which stated that Reiki could be effective for a range of conditions such as ADHD, back pain, depression and cancer. It also investigated whether the claims on the website discouraged essential treatment. Because it was not aware of a convincing body of evidence of the efficacy of reiki and because the advertiser did not provide any evidence, the ASA concluded that Reiki had not been shown to be effective at treating the conditions listed. The ASA also ruled that it could discourage essential treatment for serious medical conditions (The Allan Sweeney International Reiki Healing & Training Centre – 20th July 2011).

What about customer testimonials?

Testimonials must relate to the product or service being advertised and claims in a testimonial that are likely to be interpreted as factual must not mislead or be likely to mislead (Rules 3.46 and 3.47). Marketers should not use testimonials to circumvent the Code by making claims in a consumer review that they would not otherwise be permitted to make. For example, if a marketer doesn’t hold the evidence to substantiate an efficacy claim for reiki, they should not use a testimonial which makes that claim, even if it is presented as the genuine opinion of the person making the testimonial.

See CAP Advice on Claims in testimonials and endorsements.

More on