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Many Sceptical of Healing Hand Treatment Practiced in Europe

A person with a toothache usually touches his cheek where he feels the pain, while someone with a bellyache instinctively soothes it by putting a hand on his tummy .

Just about everyone would agree that laying a hand on a part of the body that's not well could have a calming effect.

This is a principle of Reiki, an esoteric treatment originating in Japan that has spread through Western Europe bringing controversy along with it.

"Reiki is a Japanese word for life energy," said Reiki instructor Wolfgang Niedermeyer of Bielefeld. When someone undergoes a Reiki treatment, energy from the practitioner is transferred to his patient. This is how, according to the theory, people depleted of energy can fill their tanks and get on the right course.

Many critics, however, consider the controversial treatment pseudo science.

"The practitioners say that patients can feel the flow of energy while they are being treated, but the effect has not been scientifically proven," said Lutz Hertel, chairman of the German wellness association in Dusseldorf.

Reiki can even be bad for one's health in part because of practitioners' assertions that in cases of acute coronary disease it can be used instead of conventional medicine.

This is the key problem with Reiki: Practitioners give the impression that they can heal their patients, said Hertel. According to German law, the only healing treatments allowed in Germany are those conducted by doctors and practitioners of holistic medicine.

Even the Lutheran Church in Germany has joined the discussion over Reiki, warning people to stay away from "unrealistic promises about cures, especially when urgently needed medical care is not carried out because of it". Reiki practitioners vehemently resist such criticism, saying the method raises the quality of life and general satisfaction. Author Oliver Klatt of Berlin is convinc
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