Reiki As A Complementary Therapy During Cancer Treatment

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Another guest post! This article is from Emily Walsh, a cancer advocate, freelance writer & author of the blog, Em-musings:

Reiki offers people from all walks of life relaxation and stress relief, and it may help strengthen the immune system and promote healing throughout the body. For cancer patients, Reiki offers these same benefits and can be used as a valuable complement to traditional medical treatments of cancer. Reiki can be performed on cancer patients at any stage, from diagnosis to treatment to recovery.

Reiki promotes positive thinking in patients' minds and also induces relaxation in their bodies. Being diagnosed with cancer and then undergoing treatments can be an extremely stressful period of anyone's life. This emotional stress and strain can negatively impact a patient's health at a time when his or her immune system is already weakened. After a cancer diagnosis, Reiki treatments may help patients feel more relaxed by relieving stress and anxiety, and Reiki can help patients feel more in touch with their bodies.

In addition to the damage done to the body by cancerous cells, cancer treatments themselves can take a great toll on the body. Radiation and chemotherapy, though life-saving for many, come with side effects such as nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and aches and pains. Following Reiki sessions, many patients undergoing cancer treatments reported an increased sense of well-being and a reduction in treatment side effects like nausea, vomiting and pain.

Many of the scientific studies that attempt to evaluate Reiki's benefits for cancer patients have flaws such as having too small a sample size or choosing a non-randomized sample. Some studies were not designed with rigorous enough standards, so the research must be carefully evaluated. According to the American Cancer Society, current scientific evidence does not support any claims that Reiki could cure or help treat cancer. Reiki has not been shown to increase , or life expectancies for other cancers. Nonetheless, anecdotal evidence suggests that Reiki can promote relaxation and a sense of well-being that is beneficial to patients suffering from mesothelioma or other cancers.

Reiki treatments have begun to be offered in many cancer treatment centers, hospitals, and even by hospice providers. The number of patient testimonials on Reiki's healing effects have clearly made enough of an impact that it is now considered a complementary therapy that has particular benefits to cancer patients.

It is not advisable for patients to rely on Reiki as the sole method of treating cancer, but Reiki is conclusively considered to be safe for cancer patients, as it is on anyone. There is little to no chance of harm for patients who want to undergo Reiki as a complement to medical cancer treatments, and it may at the very least result in increased well-being and decreased stress and anxiety.

Reiki Helps Cancer Patient Handle Treatments

I read a fabulous and inspiring article recently about a cancer patient in Boston, Kelley Tuthill, who credits Reiki and Acupuncture with helping her through tough chemotherapy treatments.

Says Tuthill,

Most of us can wrap our brains around the fact that if we go and get a massage, we’re going to feel better. But it’s harder to understand how Reiki could work; it’s basically described as a practitioner using her hands to give you peace, comfort, and energy. I was definitely skeptical, but Susan was amazing. I would go in there feeling nervous and anxious about things, and I would come out a transformed person. She had such a way about her, and helped me to feel more relaxed, more balanced, more positive. She would put her hands on my bald head and say, “I feel like you have good energy.” That meant a lot to me, because I felt very nervous about how I was doing physically, and it was reassuring to hear somebody say I had positive energy left in my battered body, even when I didn’t feel like I did. There was something about her touch that was very powerful.

I was having acupuncture on Fridays, so I started getting Reiki on Monday mornings before my toughest chemo treatment, Adriamycin and cytoxan. There were so many invasive things happening, but this was an hour where I could just go hide in there with Susan and have a little peace. It was the one part of my Dana-Farber treatment where I was choosing what to do. Usually you have to get a CAT scan, or you have to get a certain treatment, but this was something just for me. It empowered me to say, “I’m going to take this next hour and do this for myself.” It’s going to help me in ways that only I know about and only I can experience.

Reiki is effective - it works!

Reiki Improved Quality of Life In Cancer Patients

A recent Australian study, soon to be presented at the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia Annual Scientific Meeting in Melbourne, has shown a 14% reduction in symptoms distress along with improvements in pain, fatigue, nausea, appetite, sleep and breathing in 1244 cancer patients who obtained alternative therapies in addition to conventional cancer treatments.

Some of the therapies included aromatherapy, reiki, meditation and chi breathing.

Dr. David Joske, head researcher and Head of Hematology at Charles Gairdner Hospital stated that the research has shown beneficial effects that alternative therapies can have on cancer patients. However, it is too soon to know if these therapies have an essential effect or just give a placebo effect. Dr. Joske also remarks that he has witnessed a more positive attitude in his own patients.

Professor Bruce Mann, COSA President, stated that the conclusions were interesting. The suggestion that alternative therapies may add to patients having a more positive approach to conventional treatments is welcome and deserves further examination.