Reiki and Cancer

gaia's light reiki studio NSW central coast

While complementary therapies have a hard road ahead to be accepted unwaveringly alongside traditional healthcare, there are a few enlightened members of the medical community that do appreciate Western medicine focusses purely on the body and sometimes we need more than this.

Complementary therapies do not need to be the domain of nettle boiling hippies – they can be used in harmony, side by side your own treatment plan. Which is why I am thrilled when a doctor recognises a patient may benefit from complementary therapies too.

Perhaps your doctor has recommended meditation, hypnotherapy or Reiki, but you’re not necessarily into chanting, chakras and crystals – don’t worry. As long as you understand the need for holistic health (the whole body) and the importance of balancing the mind, body, spirit, then Reiki (and many complementary therapies) will meet you there with open arms.

If you are reading about Reiki for the first time and you’re thinking ‘yeah – I don’t know about this…’ I get it.
We all know there are charlatans out there pedalling their wares – not just in complementary/alternative therapies – but in all walks of life. Unfortunately, complementary therapies attract more than its fair share, which is why here at Gaia’s Light Reiki Studio, we go to great pains to operate in a transparent manner.  We are qualified, affiliated with a reputable body and abide by the National Code of Ethics.  Trust and credibility are so important to us. Not least because if you trust us, you can relax and get the very most out of your sessions.

Many approaching Reiki for the first time  question ‘how does Reiki work?’ It may seem an incredible jump in faith to believe that ‘energy’ work or ‘touch’ could promote healing when we are so used to receiving our healing in the form of medications, hospitals or doctor’s surgeries.

The first thing I want to make very clear is that no complementary health practitioner should EVER ask you to walk away from conventional medicine or your doctors. Reiki, as with many therapies out there, works perfectly well alongside whatever treatment your doctor has prescribed.  To re-enforce this point I always refer to Reiki as complementary therapy – not alternative. Reiki is not an alternative to your treatment plan but it is a perfectly acceptable accompaniment.

So how does Reiki actually work then?

Well, I like to sum things up very simply with this statement …

“As you relax, your mind and body work together so your own natural healing mechanisms kick in”

I accept that this may not be quite enough information, so allow me some time to explain Reiki a bit further.

Reiki is a Japanese healing art that was developed by Dr Usui in Japan in the early 20th century. It is pronounced ray-key.

You may also hear it called:

  • Reiki healing
  • Usui system of Reiki
  • therapeutic touch

The Japanese word Reiki means universal energy. Eastern medicine systems work with this energy, which flows through all living things and is vital to well-being. The energy is known as ‘Ki’ in Japan, ‘Chi’ in China and ‘Prana’ in India.

Reiki isn’t part of any type of religion or belief system. It is probably best described as ‘ hands-on healing’ (though I don’t lay my hands on anyone unless absolutely necessary).

The aim is to balance the energy fields in and around your body to help on a physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual level.

Why people with cancer use Reiki

Many cancer patients report that Reiki has helped them:

  • feel deeply relaxed
  • cope with difficult situations
  • relieve emotional stress and tension
  • improve overall wellbeing

Studies show that this is often because a therapist spends one-to-one time with the person, and in some cases ‘touch’ is beneficial to them. After the rush and stress of hospitals and treatment, it can be very relaxing when someone gives you attention for an hour or more, in a calm setting.

Reiki is sometimes used in palliative care, especially in hospices.

Some people say that Reiki has helped to control side effects of their cancer treatments, such as pain, anxiety and sickness.

They also say that it helps them cope better with their cancer and its treatment. But it’s important to bear in mind that while Reiki may help you to cope with your symptoms or side effects, it does not treat or cure cancer.

What happens in a session?

On your first visit, I will ask you about your general health and medical history. I will ask you why you would like to have Reiki and discuss your treatment plan with you.

You don’t have to get undressed for treatment. You usually take your shoes and coat off and have it sitting or lying down. You can have your eyes open or closed. Whatever makes you feel comfortable.

If it’s sunny outside I’ll generally close the curtains or give you an eye mask to wear  (to block disturbing light in your eyes) and I’ll play soothing music. Many practitioners will lay their hands on your body – which is an accepted/recommended practice, however, here at Gaia’s Light Reiki Studio we place hands a few inches above your body. It’s easier to feel the energy this way. I will then move my hands across your body, usually starting at your head and working down to your feet, but from time to time I may focus on a particular area of the body.

The aim is to move and balance the energy within and around your body to get rid of any energy blocks. This will encourage physical healing and strengthen your energy.

You might feel a tingling sensation, a deep relaxation, or warmth or coolness throughout your body. Or, you might not feel anything at all. This does not mean the treatment isn’t working.

A session usually lasts between 20 minutes and an hour. For best results, it is ideal to have 3 sessions within a fairly short space of time. Then take a break, before having more treatments.

You might feel thirsty after a session. It can help to drink plenty of water and avoid strong caffeine based drinks, such as coffee.

You might feel deeply relaxed, so resting at home afterwards can help you get the full benefit of the treatment.

Reiki can be sent remotely. An appropriately trained practitioner can send healing over a distance and we can do that here at Gaia’s Light Reiki Studio. This means you can be in your own home having Reiki. Here at Gaia’s Light Reiki Studio, we prefer that you have already had a Reiki treatment before having a remote session – more for your own peace of mind. It also gives you the chance to talk about anything you don’t feel comfortable with or ask questions about your treatment.

Possible side effects

Generally speaking, Reiki is safe for most people with cancer. Here at Gaia’s Light Reiki Studio, we will advise you to rest and drink plenty of water after treatment. There are no reports of harmful side effects.

It is safe to have Reiki alongside your cancer treatment. But it’s important to tell your doctor about any complementary therapy, alternative therapy or diet supplement that you use. Then your doctor will always have the full picture about your care and treatment.

Research into Reiki for people with cancer

There is no scientific evidence to prove that Reiki can prevent, treat or cure cancer, or any other disease. No Reiki practitioner should ever claim to provide a cure. However, many healthcare professionals accept Reiki as a useful complementary therapy which may help lower stress, promote relaxation and reduce pain.

General Studies

In 2008 UK researchers carried out a review of studies into Reiki for any medical or psychological condition. They looked at 9 randomised clinical trials.

  • 2 trials found helpful effects for people with depression but another trial did not
  • 1 trial found that Reiki seemed to help to reduce pain and anxiety
  • 2 other trials seemed to show that Reiki and distant Reiki reduced stress and hopelessness.
  • 1 trial showed that Reiki did not seem to reduce anxiety and depression in women having a breast biopsy.

The researchers stated that all the trials were small, so there is no strong evidence that Reiki is an effective treatment for any condition.

A 2009 review by Canadian researchers looked at 12 trials. They found that 9 of the trials showed Reiki to have significant helpful effects, but that the quality of 11 of the studies was poor.

For Pain Control

A Canadian study in 2003 looked at whether Reiki could control pain in people with advanced cancer. It found that participants had a significant reduction in pain after treatment, but the study was small with only 20 patients.

In 2008 another review looked at 24 studies using therapeutic touch to treat pain. 3 trials used Reiki. Overall, the review found that people who had the touch therapies had less pain than people who did not have the therapies. Trials carried out by more experienced touch practitioners seemed to give better results in pain reduction. Reiki also seemed to give greater benefit than other types of touch therapy.

The researchers in the 2008 review suggested that more research should be done into whether experienced practitioners or certain types of touch therapy can give better pain reduction. 2 of 5 studies looking at painkiller use supported the claim that touch therapies lowered painkiller use.

I will add to this research in a specific section of the website as I accumulate the data.

How much does Reiki cost?

Some cancer centres and hospitals offer free or low cost Reiki treatments for people with cancer. Ask your nurse or doctor if this is an option in your ward or treatment centre. If it isn’t, they might be able to direct you to nearby organisations or support groups that do. Private Reiki treatments usually cost $60-$150 a session. Treatments may be more expensive in bigger cities.

Finding a Reiki practitioner

It is vital that the person who gives you Reiki is properly trained. There are 3 different levels of Reiki practitioners.

  • Level 1 means you can use Reiki to treat yourself, family and friends but are not able to treat other people or charge money for treatment
  • Level 2 (also called practitioner level) means you have studied to a higher level and can use Reiki to treat people
  • Level 3 means you are a Reiki master or teacher

Anyone treating you should hold a minimum Level 2 Reiki qualification and should be registered with a reputable body as a Reiki practitioner. There is no law to say that practitioners have to have any specific qualifications. But, most reputable practitioners belong to a professional Reiki association.

Look on the Reiki Australia website (or your regional regulatory body for your country) for a list of practitioners in your area.


  • Qualifications in Reiki
  • Practioner Member of a regulatory body
  • Insurance
  • First Aid


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