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How Reiki can help cancer patients

Reiki Massage has become increasing popular but many people are still unaware of this therapeutic practice. Reiki originated in the 1900s in Japan and has been used as a stress reduction and relaxation technique that promotes healing.


How does Reiki work?

A therapist’s hands are placed gently on or above the body, in 12 to 15 different positions, and held for 2-5 minutes. The belief is that the therapist uses light touch to channel life energy to the patient, resulting in an activation of the patient’s own healing process to restore their physical and emotional well-being [i].


How does Reiki help with cancer?

Reiki is commonly used in integrative medicine focusing on healing physical and emotional symptoms through therapeutic touch. This complementary therapy is used in conjunction with mainstream cancer treatment and is said to alleviate common side effects of chemotherapy, such as fatigue, nausea, anxiety and pain [i].

Reiki practitioners claim by improving the patient’s flow of life energy, it will ultimately lead to an improvement in healing, reduction in pain, and decrease in muscle tension.


Is there evidence to back up claims?

There is still limited evidenced-base research on the effectiveness of Reiki massage in cancer care, however, patients tend to report feeling more relaxed, less stressed, and have an overall enhanced sense of well-being.  Moreover, one recent study found patients reported improvement in cancer-related symptoms, including mood and attitude, pain, anxiety, sleep, and appetite, after receiving Reiki massage during chemotherapy infusion [ii].

Reiki massage, unlike deep tissue massage, is gentle enough for cancer patients undergoing treatment. It may be worth a try. Reiki is a safe and non-invasive healing technique that can potentially be beneficial in relieving some of the lingering ailments associated with cancer related treatments.

It is important that all patients consult their oncologist or healthcare provider before starting or undergoing any complementary therapy.


[i] Cassileth BR. The Complete Guide to Complementary Therapies in Cancer Care. World Scientific Publishing Co., USA, 2011.
[ii] Marcus DA, Blazek-O’Neill B, Kopar JL. Symptomatic improvement reported after receiving Reiki at a cancer infusion center. Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 2013;30(2):216-7.
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