Reiki Healing: Benefits for Cancer Treatment

Reiki is an ancient Japanese practice that promotes relaxation, reduces stress, and enhances the body's own healing powers. It's based on the idea that we all have a life force energy that flows through us and we can tap into that energy to stay healthy or help us heal when we're ill.

In 2006, 1.2 million Americans used an energy healing therapy such as Reiki. Reiki falls in the category of energy medicine or biofield therapy within the broader field of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM).

During Reiki, a practitioner places her hands in 12 to 15 positions on or above the patient's body, holding each position for several minutes. Reiki is a simple, non-invasive therapy, which individuals can also practice as a form of self-care. The International Center for Reiki Training describes Reiki treatment as a "wonderful flowing radiance that flows through and around you."

There is considerable anecdotal support of the value of Reiki for cancer patients. Patients report that it helps them relax, reduces pain, and provides relief from disease-related symptoms and treatment side effects, such as anxiety, fatigue, nausea, and insomnia. Reiki proponents believe that reducing stress facilitates the body's ability to heal, which in turn, enhances the effectiveness of conventional treatments.

Pamela Miles, an Integrative Health Care Consultant and Reiki master, writes that Reiki also enhances patients' ability to address the challenges and uncertainty of cancer with a clearer mind and a stronger sense of self.

Scientific support for Reiki as an adjunct therapy for cancer and other serious diseases is also accumulating. In a review of 66 clinical studies on several types of biofield therapies, the reviewers found:

  • Strong evidence for reduced pain intensity in pain populations
  • Moderate evidence for reducing pain in hospitalized and cancer populations
  • Moderate evidence for decreasing anxiety in hospital patients
  • Equivocal evidence for treatment effects on fatigue and quality of life for cancer patients

The conventional medical community is increasingly embracing Reiki. Many leading cancer centers and medical institutions offer Reiki, and healthcare workers are learning how to provide therapy for their patients (and each other). Some medical training programs now incorporate Reiki into the curriculum.

Reiki is safe, has no known side effects, and does not compromise the effectiveness of conventional cancer treatments, making it an ideal therapy for patients who want to reduce pain and symptoms and like to feel they are actively participating in their own care.

International Center for Reiki Training

American Cancer Society. "Reiki." Web.

National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine."Reiki: An Introduction." Web. 6 May 2010.

National Cancer Institute. "Thinking About Complementary and Alternative Medicine: A Guide for People With Cancer." Web. 8 June 2005.

Miles, Pamela. "Reiki for Mind, Body, and Spirit Support of Cancer Patients." ADVANCES 22(2) (2007). Web.

Jain, Shamini and Mills, Paul J. "Biofield Therapies: Helpful or Full of Hype? A Best Evidence Synthesis." International Journal for Behavioral Medicine 17(1) (2010): 1-16.  Web. 24 October 2009.