There is no scientific evidence to prove that Reiki can prevent, treat or cure cancer or any other disease. But many healthcare professionals accept Reiki as a useful complementary therapy that may help to lower stress, promote relaxation and possibly help reduce some types of pain.
General studies of Reiki
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 that used Reiki.
- 2 trials found helpful effects of Reiki in 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 breast biopsy
The researchers stated that all the trials were small and there is no strong evidence that Reiki is an effective treatment for any condition.
A 2009 review by Canadian researchers looked at 12 trials and they found that 9 of the trials showed that Reiki had significant helpful effects but the quality of 11 of the studies was poor.
Reiki for pain control
A Canadian study in 2003 looked at whether Reiki could control pain in people with advanced cancer. People did have a significant reduction in pain after Reiki treatment but the study was small and had only 20 patients.
Therapeutic touch to treat pain review
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.
We need to do large randomised clinical trials before we really know how much Reiki can help people with cancer. An American clinical trial is currently looking at the effects of Reiki healing in men with prostate cancer.
You can see the details of this trial on Reiki in prostate cancer on the American National Centre of Complementary and Alternative Medicine website (NCCAM).