When we think of cancer treatments, we usually think of surgery or chemotherapy. However, also very important in terms of treating cancer patients are therapies that support and improve patients’ quality of life as they go through the painful, life-changing ordeal that is cancer.
Gentle, relaxing practices like yoga and meditation, for example, are known as popular and effective methods to reduce stress and pain, and improve patients’ quality of life.
Now, a new study has suggested that an energy healing technique called Reiki could also improve the quality of life of those who suffer from cancer. Specifically, the study found that the complementary therapy could benefit cancer patients by reducing their levels of anxiety, depression, and fatigue.
Reiki, if you haven’t heard of it, is a healing technique based on the theory that ‘life force energy’ can be channeled between people. During a Reiki treatment, a therapist channels energy into the patient’s body, usually by touching the patient with their palms. Through this method, the patient’s natural healing processes are activated, and physical and emotional well-being are restored or improved.
The study was performed in the UK by Dr. Serena McCluskey, Dr. Maxine Stead, and Professor Marilynne Kirshbaum. Over the period of a year, the researchers conducted detailed interviews with female cancer patients who had received Reiki therapy in the local area.
The women recounted experiencing benefits such as releases of emotional stress and tension, “a clearing of the mind from cancer,” and feelings of relaxation and inner peace. Some of the women recounted experiencing these benefits for as long as two weeks after the treatment.
Dr. Stead described the patients’ experience in the following way: “It really gave them an escape from what they were going through. They were often undergoing a lot of treatment, and the Reiki was a respite and seemed to help them cope. It got them out of their blackness.”
Based on their interviews, the researchers concluded, “Reiki could be a beneficial tool in the self-management of quality of life issues for women with cancer.”
With cancer patients living longer than ever before, medical professionals and researchers are beginning to focus more on methods and therapies that can improve patients’ quality of life, as a considerable number of cancer patients must cope with it for many years. Dr. McCluskey explains:
“Due to more effective methods of diagnosis and treatment, people are living longer with cancer and it is now often classed as a long-term condition…. Patients don’t go into the hospital or see consultants as frequently, so they often look at things outside of normal medical treatment to help them cope with the effects of living with the disease, such as depression, anxiety, fatigue and pain.”
Their findings will be presented soon at a major conference, in hopes of garnering support for larger scale research on the topic. We’re happy to see researchers continue to try learn more about alternative, holistic, and complementary therapies, rather than funneling all of their funds into pharmaceutical research and treatments.
-The Alternative Daily