The Benefits of Reiki Therapy During Cancer Treatment

Woman undergoing alternative therapy treatment, therapist's hands over woman's head
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Reiki is a Japanese energy-based therapy whose name means "universal life energy." Born out of Japan in the late 1930s, it's based on the idea that a practitioner can promote healing and overall wellness by encouraging the flow and free circulation of a recipient's own spiritual energy via touch or closeness.

How Is Reiki Performed?

Reiki sessions typically last 30 to 90 minutes either on their own or in combination with other alternative and conventional medical treatments. While practitioners generally perform reiki within close proximity of the recipient, many believe it can be successfully performed from a distance.

During a reiki session, a specially trained practitioner will use his or her hands to transmit "life force energy" while the recipient is sitting or lying down, fully clothed. The practitioner's hands are placed on or slightly above the recipient's body with the goal of directing the flow of energy to where it's most needed. The practitioner may also utilize hand positions on various parts of the body for two to five minutes at a time.

Many people report feeling a sense of warmth and deep relaxation during reiki sessions. They may also feel sleepy or refreshed, or generally less tense and anxious.

Does Reiki Help Cancer Patients?

Reiki treatment is offered along with massage therapy and other complementary therapies in some major cancer centers, as recent research has shown that it can help with symptoms such as distress, anxiety, depression and pain. Research has also shown that cancer patients receiving reiki treatment have reported improvements in their well-being, relaxation, pain relief and sleep, as well as a reduction in anxiety. Because it doesn't come with any lasting or dangerous side effects, more clinical settings are starting to offer it in addition to medical cancer treatments.

It is important to note that reiki is not an alternative cancer treatment. It is not used to cure cancer or in place of treatment. Reiki is a complementary therapy, used to ease the emotional and physical side effects of treatment by promoting relaxation and reducing feelings of anxiety.

How Do I Find a Reiki Practitioner?

In many states, a reiki practitioner must also be a licensed massage therapist. Reiki is offered in wellness clinics and sometimes by spiritual ministers. Check the International Association of Reiki Professionals list for a practitioner in your area. Reiki sessions can range from no cost to about $100 per session. Insurance companies do not normally cover reiki treatments.

A Word From Verywell

While reiki is considered to be safe and non-invasive, it's still important to remember that it's not an approved cancer treatment. Don't delay pursuing standard treatment in favor of an alternative method like reiki. Be sure to always talk to your doctor prior to having any alternative or complementary treatment.

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Article Sources

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  1. International Association of Reiki Professionals. How reiki helps cancer patients.

  2. Gateway for Cancer Research. Reiki therapy improves symptoms in cancer patients. Updated September 17, 2015.

  3. Penn Medicine News. Reiki: A light touch that helps cancer patients. Updated January 6, 2014.