Reiki is a type of complementary and alternative medicine that began in Japan but is now practiced worldwide. It is an energy therapy that aims to change the flow of so-called vital, universal energy in the body. By doing so a practitioner of Reiki claims to be able to induce relaxation in a patient, reduce stress, and promote greater healing in the body.
The validity of Reiki has been challenged by academic and medical studies and has been found to have some useful benefits for mesothelioma and cancer patients. Proponents of reiki have never claimed that it will cure any illness or that it can replace traditional medicine, but they do say that this healing art can be a complementary technique that helps cancer patients and others find peace, relaxation, and healing.
What is Reiki?
Reiki is a type of complementary and alternative medicine that has its roots in Japan in the 1920s. It was developed to provide stress reduction, relaxation, and healing for participants. It is often classified as a type of mind-body therapy in that it aims to create a balance between the body, mind, and soul and to heal on a physical, mental, and spiritual level.
The practice of Reiki is based on energy thought to flow in all living things and referred to as ‘Ki’ in Japan and ‘Chi’ in China. Someone who practices Reiki balances and manipulates this energy in a patient using his or her hands. One session of Reiki may last an hour or more with the patient lying on something like a massage table or sitting in a comfortable chair. The practitioner may actually touch the patient, but much of the work is done with the hands over, but not touching the body.
Reiki is not a type of massage and it is not part of any religious practice. It was only developed during the last century, but is based on thousands of years of belief in energy work used in traditional Eastern medicine. Although there are some proven healing and health benefits of Reiki, as reported by participants and as seen in some research studies, it is not considered to be a replacement for traditional medical treatments, especially for cancer.
Why People Use Reiki
There are many reasons why people turn to Reiki practitioners, but some of the biggest ones are for relaxation and reduction of stress. Some also use Reiki to improve overall health and general wellness, without specific needs. Practitioners claim that while Reiki is not something that cures illnesses, it does promote and facilitate healing and makes a useful complement to traditional medicine for this reason.
Cancer patients in particular may turn to Reiki to reduce stress and promote relaxation, but also to help them cope with the general difficulties of living with cancer. They may also turn to Reiki as a way to reduce pain and other physical symptoms of cancer and the side effects of treatments like chemotherapy.
Reiki in Cancer Research
There is no harm in using Reiki as a complement to traditional treatments for patients with mesothelioma and other types of cancer. If it helps individuals to feel better, then it is worthwhile. There is, though, some important evidence from research that Reiki really does improve some of the symptoms of cancer, and that it does actually reduce stress and help patients feel more relaxed and at peace with being sick.
In one study, researchers surveyed and measured the results of Reiki sessions on over 200 cancer patients. The quantitative measurements evaluated the patients’ distress, while the surveys asked for self-reported evaluations of each patient’s depression, anxiety, fatigue, and pain. The results determined that the patients experienced significant reductions in all of these and that they enjoyed the sessions and wanted to continue with them in the future.
Self-reporting studies can be problematic, but other studies have taken a more quantitative approach to evaluating the effects of Reiki on cancer patients. In one study, the researchers compared the effects of Reiki sessions to sessions that involved rest only as a restorative technique. This study found that the patients experienced significant reductions in fatigue and that all reported better quality of life after Reiki sessions.
Another study looked at pain in cancer patients and how Reiki impacted pain and the use of opioid painkillers to manage pain. The patients that were given Reiki sessions experienced less pain, but did not use any less of their painkillers. One hypothesis for how Reiki affects pain is that it changes a person’s perception of pain. Because there is no physical touch or manipulation of muscles, it is difficult to explain the results. It may simply be that the power of suggestion helps people feel as if they are experiencing less pain.
Reiki in Hospitals
There is enough evidence from research and from patient reports of experiences with Reiki that hospitals are beginning to offer this complementary service on their premises. Hospitals and doctors providing care for patients with mesothelioma and other types of cancer recognize that there is healing power in Reiki and other complementary strategies. If you are living with mesothelioma, ask your medical team about Reiki and other complementary practices that you may have access to in your hospital or medical center.
Reiki has many followers and practitioners who believe in the power of healing energy. It has come to be evaluated as a worthwhile complementary strategy, and while it cannot serve as a substitute for treatment, it is clear that Reiki practitioners may be able to help you feel better and cope better with having mesothelioma. Make sure that you work only with a trained and licensed practitioner and that you feel comfortable during your sessions. With the right expert, Reiki may help you enjoy a better quality of life while you fight cancer.