Reiki is a complementary therapy that helps in stress reduction and relaxation. It involves the transfer of universal energy from the practitioner’s palms to their patient. This alternative therapy can improve the wellbeing.
Reiki is composed of two ideograms that strongly embody spirituality and are both difficult to be defined accurately. It is a Japanese complementary medicine notably classed in the category of biofield energy therapy by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Reiki therapy is characterized by spiritual practice without any references to religion and could be useful for every symptom. The increased popularity of this complementary and alternative technique raises the question of scientific and clinical evidence for its use on pain, anxiety, and quality of life.
Olson et al 2019 assessed the effect of two Reiki treatments (1 hour) within 7 days in an advanced cancer population. It has been reported that Reiki therapy and medications induced a significant increase in the psychological component of quality of life whereas no effects were found in the social and physical components of quality of life. It has also been reported that quality of life is improved by around 11% after seven Reiki sessions lasting 45 min in patients with stage I to IV cancer.
In the cancer population, Rosenbaum and Velde showed that Reiki therapies, such as massage and yoga intervention, are capable of increasing the quality of life. Further, improvement of quality of life has been observed when Reiki therapy was administrated during chemotherapy sessions. Vergo et al, also showed that Reiki therapy, similar to massage intervention, leads to increased quality of life in 357 hospitalized patients.
While only a few studies have investigated the use of Reiki therapy in palliative care. Bullock published an article where it was being described a story of a 70-year-old man diagnosed with cancer. Reiki therapy caused a reduction of pain and anxiety and an increase of quality of life. The author also reported that these results were coupled with a decrease in the biological markers of cancer and with a reduction of inflammation of the legs. A second study examined the effect of alternative therapy with aromatherapy, massage and Reiki. Taken together, these approaches showed a reduction of pain at 66%, discomfort at 61%, depression at 70%, and anxiety at 66%. This study also showed that the word ‘calm’ is the most frequently used word by the patient after receiving the treatment, whereas the words ‘anxious’, ‘fearful’, ‘irritable’, ‘restless’, ‘stressed’ or ‘pain’ were mainly used before the treatment.
Overall, based on the studies it is proved that Reiki therapy can be effective in improving the quality of the life as well as supporting patients in palliative care.