How do experts use Reiki? - CancerChoices

This biofield energy therapy directs and balances the life force through practitioners’ hands to promote wellness.

How do experts use Reiki?

Both medical groups and integrative experts provide recommendations for Reiki in treating people with cancer. Learn more about the approaches and meanings of recommendations. Integrative Oncology Programs and Expert Guidelines ›

Clinical practice guidelines

Society for Integrative Oncology

Two guidelines have evaluated reiki for treating people with cancer.

Evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for integrative oncology: complementary therapies and botanicals ›

These 2009 guidelines conclude that therapies based on a philosophy of bioenergy fields are safe and may provide some benefit for reducing stress and enhancing quality of life. The Society for Integrative Oncology gives a strong recommendation for these therapies, which include Reiki, Therapeutic Touch®, healing touch, and polarity therapy, for these uses:

  • For reducing anxiety: grade 1B (strong recommendation, moderate-quality evidence)
  • For pain, fatigue, and other symptom management: grade 1C (strong recommendation, low or very low quality evidence)

Clinical practice guidelines on the evidence-based use of integrative therapies during and after breast cancer treatment › This set of guidelines has been endorsed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).1Lyman GH, Greenlee H et al. Integrative therapies during and after breast cancer treatment: ASCO endorsement of the SIO clinical practice guideline. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2018 Sep 1;36(25):2647-2655.

These 2017 guidelines found insufficient evidence to form a clinical recommendation for using Reiki for anxiety/stress reduction.

Published protocols, programs, and approaches

These protocolsa package of therapies combining and preferably integrating various therapies and practices into a cohesive design for care, programs, and approaches by leaders in integrative cancer care use or recommend Reiki.

We do not recommend specific integrative protocols or programs but provide information for you to evaluate with your healthcare team.

Lise Alschuler, ND, FABNO, and Karolyn Gazella

Approaches are described for certain cancer types, or along with certain conventional therapy treatments, or for particular conditions such as insulin resistance.

Reiki is used in an overall integrative cancer plan for balancing the body through symptom relief and enhancing the innate ability to heal.

Neil McKinney, BSc, ND

McKinney N. Naturopathic Oncology, Fourth Edition. Victoria, BC, Canada: Liaison Press. 2020.

This book includes descriptions and uses of many natural and complementary protocols for cancer in general and for specific cancers. It also includes information on integrative support during conventional cancer treatment.

Neil McKinney, ND, lists Reiki as one of the leading remedies he uses in his integrative cancer care plans. He prefers the traditional Usai method and notices that his patients receiving Reiki make dramatic physical and emotional shifts. He says that it is particularly helpful in reducing radiation and/or chemotherapy-induced fatigue. He emphasizes that Reiki is compatible with all other healing modalities—conventional and alternative—and is not a religious practice.

Uses of Reiki:

  • Treatment-related fatigue
  • Symptom management for cancer in general
  • Improvement of biophysical markersa chemical or substance, such as certain proteins or genetic material, that are associated with the presence of cancer or a change in status or prognosis; these markers can be detected in blood, urine, or tissue. Tumor markers are not direct measures of clinical outcomes such as survival or metastasis, and if a therapy or treatment shows an impact only on tumor markers, we cannot surmise that it will affect survival. in cancer
  • As a natural medicine to alleviate side effects, restore real health and create healing conditions

Traditional medicine

Reiki is a traditional Japanese therapy and may be used in traditional medicine systems including traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda.

Learn more about traditional medicine and how to find practitioners: Finding Integrative Oncologists and Other Professionals ›

Other expert assessments

Current Oncology Reports

An expert review of evidence suggests that touch therapies might have a potential role in alleviating cancer-related fatigue.2David A, Hausner D, Frenkel M. Cancer-related fatigue-is there a role for complementary and integrative medicine? Current Oncology Reports. 2021 Nov 7;23(12):145.

Helpful link

Keep reading about Reiki


Laura Pole, MSN, RN, OCNS

Senior Clinical Consultant
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Laura Pole is senior clinical consultant for CancerChoices. Laura is an oncology clinical nurse specialist who has been providing integrative oncology clinical care, navigation, consultation, and education services for over 40 years. She is the co-creator and co-coordinator of the Integrative Oncology Navigation Training at Smith Center for Healing and the Arts in Washington, DC. Laura also manages the “Media Watch Cancer News That You Can Use” listserv for Smith Center/Commonweal. In her role as a palliative care educator and consultant, Laura has served as statewide Respecting Choices Faculty for the Virginia POST (Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment) Collaborative as well as provided statewide professional education on palliative and end-of-life care for the Virginia Association for Hospices and Palliative Care.

For CancerChoices, Laura curates content and research, networks with clinical and organizational partners, brings awareness and education of integrative oncology at professional and patient conferences and programs, and translates research into information relevant to the patient experience as well as clinical practice.

Laura sees her work with CancerChoices as a perfect alignment of all her passions, knowledge and skills in integrative oncology care. She is honored to serve you.

Laura Pole, MSN, RN, OCNS Senior Clinical Consultant

Nancy Hepp, MS

Lead Researcher
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Ms. Hepp is a researcher and communicator who has been writing and editing educational content on varied health topics for more than 20 years. She serves as lead researcher and writer for CancerChoices and also served as the first program manager. Her graduate work in research and cognitive psychology, her master’s degree in instructional design, and her certificate in web design have all guided her in writing and presenting information for a wide variety of audiences and uses. Nancy’s service as faculty development coordinator in the Department of Family Medicine at Wright State University also provided experience in medical research, plus insights into medical education and medical care from the professional’s perspective.

Nancy Hepp, MS Lead Researcher

Last update: December 20, 2023

Last full literature review: August 2021

CancerChoices provides information about integrative in cancer care, a patient-centered approach combining the best of conventional care, self care and evidence-informed complementary care in an integrated plan cancer care. We review complementaryin cancer care, complementary care involves the use of therapies intended to enhance or add to standard conventional treatments; examples include supplements, mind-body approaches such as yoga or psychosocial therapy, and acupuncture therapies and self-care lifestyle actions and behaviors that may impact cancer outcomes; examples include eating health-promoting foods, limiting alcohol, increasing physical activity, and managing stress practices to help patients and professionals explore and integrate the best combination of conventionalthe cancer care offered by conventionally trained physicians and most hospitals; examples are chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy and complementary therapies and practices for each person.

Our staff have no financial conflicts of interest to declare. We receive no funds from any manufacturers or retailers gaining financial profit by promoting or discouraging therapies mentioned on this site.

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