Reiki Supports Individuals Living with Cancer

Elise Brenner

“A diagnosis of cancer comes with a lot of emotional turmoil, stress and anxiety, which can be detrimental to our health,” says Lorenzo .Cohen, Ph.D., director of the integrative medicine program at the MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas. To offset the emotional storm, patients can engage in mind-body practices, such as reiki, to relieve stress.

Reiki is a gentle, non-invasive mind-body healing and meditation practice that can be performed on oneself or others. Reiki practitioners use gentle touch to facilitate a healing state of being in the recipient, allowing for emotional regulation, stress-reduction and mindfulness. As a nonpharmacological option, it can reduce the distressing symptoms patients commonly experience during and after cancer treatment. A recent study found that reiki treatments can bring a noticeable improvement in pain levels. Pre- and post-reiki session surveys for cancer patients showed a more than 50 percent decrease in self-reported distress, anxiety, depression, pain and fatigue.

The American Cancer Society considers reiki a safe, complementary cancer therapy without any contraindications. It induces the body’s natural relaxation response which encourages optimal functioning of the body’s own natural healing system. During a session, the recipient’s nervous system shifts from sympathetic mode to parasympathetic mode, thereby regulating blood pressure and heart rate, relieving tension and anxiety, strengthening the immune system, reducing inflammation and stimulating the brain’s production of endorphins that act to decrease the perception of pain.

While undergoing chemotherapy, reiki sessions, prior to and during treatments, help manage both the mental and emotional suffering as well as some of the post-chemo reactions. Another study found that for cancer patients receiving outpatient chemotherapy, reiki sessions were helpful in improving well-being, relaxation, pain relief, sleep quality and reducing anxiety.

Due to more effective methods of cancer diagnosis and treatment, people are living longer. Yet cancer leaves its marks—the deepest of which may be those on the mental-emotional level: fear, anxiety and depression. For those lucky enough to enter remission, reiki can help with the intense anxiety that comes with the uncertainty of a possible recurrence of the cancer.

Several major area medical facilities, such as Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Spaulding Rehabilitation Center, Newton-Wellesley Hospital and Emerson Hospital, offer reiki sessions for their patients as part of their complementary and integrative healthcare services.

Elise Brenner, Ph.D, reiki practitioner and teacher, and founder and executive director of the nonprofit reiki educational and outreach organization, Celebration of Reiki, Inc., is a strong advocate for reiki outreach, education and empowerment. She assists clients at Brenner Reiki Healing, in Newton, while also providing reiki at veteran’s retreats, community wellness fairs, support groups, schools, hospitals and hospice. For more information, visit

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More from Natural Awakenings

When Good Foods Make Us Feel Bad

Through muscle response testing, a kinesiologist can find out which foods make the nervous system weak by eliciting a weak muscle response. Once known, several techniques are available to desensitize the body to food allergens.

Supporting Gut Health to Reduce Inflammation

Research shows that gut dysbiosis, an imbalance of good and bad bacteria, is a contributor to inflammatory responses.

A Quick Guide to Summertime Wellness

Every summer many people seek medical treatment requiring relief from over-exposure to the sun. Get tips on how to beat the heat.

Natural Supplementation for Warm Weather Allergies

As the weather warms up, many New Englanders begin to suffer from warm weather allergies that bring on bouts of sneezing, congestion, itching, stinging and watery eyes.

Natural Solutions for Stress

The effects of worry can be long term, as stress is related to disease, weakening of the immune system, causing high blood pressure or heart disease, and leading to unhealthy actions like overeating, smoking and alcohol overuse.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »This Month

Tickets on Sale for Healthy Lifestyle Event, Film Screening

Early bird ticket pricing ends July 31 for the day-long expo The Revolution of Consciousness on September 24, at The Reggie Lewis Center, Roxbury Crossing.

The Anti-Cancer Kitchen

There are many delicious, satisfying and nutritious foods that help defend the body against the invasion of cancer by reducing inflammation, detoxifying, boosting the immune system, inhibiting tumor growth and/ or promoting the destruction of cancer cells.

SugAR Poke Diet and Nutrition App Helps to Reduce Sugar Intake

SugAR Poke, a free public health app, is focused on displaying the truth about secondary sugar for all food products in local grocery stores.

Reiki Supports Individuals Living with Cancer

To offset the emotional storm that comes with a cancer diagnosis, patients can engage in mind-body practices, such as reiki, to relieve stress.

One-Year Shiatsu Certification Program Begins this September

Travel to beautiful Vermont for one four-day weekend each month, beginning September 29, to become a certified Shiatsu practitioner.

Ignite More Sexual Energy with Sacred Temple Arts

Sacha L. Fossa is a highly trained and experienced sex, intimacy and relationship coach, educator and holistic healer, offering the keys to sensual and sexual healing, awakening, more pleasure and empowerment, at any life stage.