What is Reiki?

What is Reiki?


Sarah Flowers

1 month ago at 4:57 PM

Many cancer patients use Reiki to help them relax and feel a greater sense of mental and physical wellbeing. Read more to learn what it is and whether it could be a good complement to your existing treatment.

Reiki is a type of complementary therapy. A reiki practitioner puts their hands lightly on or near your body. One of the main aims is to help you relax.


  • The Japanese word Reiki means universal energy.
  • It aims to relax you, ease stress and tension and help your overall well being.
  • There is no scientific evidence that reiki can help prevent, treat or cure cancer.

What is Reiki?

Reiki is a Japanese healing art that was developed by Mikao Usui in Japan in the early 20th century. It is pronounced ray-key. You might also hear it called Reiki energy, Usui system of Reiki and therapeutic touch.

The Japanese word reiki means universal energy. Eastern medicine systems work with this energy, which they believe 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.

A reiki practitioner aims to change and balance the ‘energy fields’ in and around your body to help on a physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual level.

Why people with cancer use it

Some people with cancer may use reiki alongside their treatment, as a complementary therapy. Reiki practitioners say that it can:

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

Some people with cancer say they feel better after using therapies such as reiki. Studies show that this is often because a therapist spends time with the person, and touches 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 is not able to treat your cancer.

How you have it

On your first visit, your reiki practitioner will ask you about your general health and medical history. They 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.

Your reiki practitioner might dim the lights or play soothing music. They put their hands on, or a few inches above your body. They move their hands across your body, usually starting at your head and working down to your feet, but may focus on particular areas of the body.

The aim is to move and balance the 'energy' within and around your body. And to get rid of any energy blocks to encourage 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. Practitioners say this doesn’t mean the treatment isn’t working.

A session usually lasts between 20 minutes and an hour. Many practitioners say you will get the best results from 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, and resting at home afterwards can help you get the full benefit of the treatment.

Reiki practitioners say that reiki can be sent remotely, over a distance. So you can be in your own home having reiki from a person elsewhere.

If you don’t feel comfortable with anything, it’s important to discuss this with your practitioner.

Side effects

Generally speaking, reiki is safe for most people with cancer. Most practitioners will advise you to rest and drink plenty of water after treatment. There are no reports of harmful side effects.

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 show that reiki can prevent, treat or cure cancer, or any other disease.

But, many healthcare professionals accept reiki as a complementary therapy which may help lower stress, promote relaxation and reduce pain.

How much it costs

Some cancer and hospitals offer free or low cost reiki for people with cancer. You can ask your nurse or doctor about this. If it isn’t available, they might be able to direct you to nearby organizations or support groups that do offer it.

Private reiki treatments usually cost from around $100 an hour. 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. There is no law to say that practitioners have to have any specific qualifications. But most reputable practitioners belong to a professional reiki association.

A word of caution

Remember that reiki cannot cure your cancer.

It is a complementary therapy that aims to help support you during your cancer treatment and help with your general well being.


Last activity by Ashley Yesayan

Jim Delaney

I never thought I would use Reiki or something similar but I did it at the advice of my doctor. It ended up being a highlight of the week for me, because it was time I took to myself to process everything I was going through. Highly recommend trying it.

Amanda Pool

Good overview

Tara Van G

I don't really get reiki, but I'd be willing to try it out. Am feeling like I am going crazy so maybe this would help to calm my nerves

Alice Osborne

We have reiki at my hospital, I haven't tried it but seems like it is worth a shot. Would be interested in hearing whether other ppl have a good experience with it.

Ashley Yesayan

I used reiki during my own treatment, and it was a HUGE help for me. I haven't continued it since that time but I probably should. It was a really wonderful time to help process, as one of the other comments above mentioned.


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