Reiki, a type of energy-based bodywork, was found to reduce fatigue, improve quality of life and decrease tiredness and anxiety in cancer patients, according to a recent study.
In the study “Pilot Crossover Trial of Reiki Versus Rest for Treating Cancer-Related Fatigue,” 16 participants diagnosed with cancer in stages I to IV volunteered to partake in a counterbalanced crossover trial to examine the effects of reiki on fatigue, pain, anxiety and overall quality of life. Each individual participated in reiki and rest—the control factor in the study—in random order.
Participants received Reiki, administered by a reiki master, for five consecutive daily sessions, which lasted, on average, 45 minutes per session. The sessions were then followed by a one-week washout monitoring period of no treatment to assess the longevity of any effects, then two additional reiki sessions. A one- to two-week break was given to participants before they switched to the resting control.
Participants rested for approximately 45 minutes each day for five consecutive days, followed by a one-week period of no scheduled resting. A two-week break was given to participants before they switched to reiki sessions.
All participants completed questionnaires before and after all reiki and rest sessions. Individuals completed the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy Fatigue subscale and the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy, General Version, which assessed overall quality of life. They also completed a visual analog scale—the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System—that assessed daily tiredness, pain and anxiety before and after each session of reiki and rest.
Data collected from the completion of the study showed reiki significantly improved the quality of life, decreased tiredness and anxiety, and reduced fatigue in cancer patients, compared to rest. There were no significant changes reported in fatigue, pain, anxiety and quality of life from the rest sessions.
“The passive nature of Reiki [sic] makes it an ideal intervention for patients with limited energy who are having difficulty adapting to the stressors associated with cancer and its treatment,” say the study’s authors.

Source: Department of Psychology and Department of Oncology, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada; Department of Psychosocial Resources, Tom Baker Cancer Centre, Calgary, Alberta, Canada; and Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, Canada.

Authors: Kathy L. Tsang, BA; Linda E. Carlson, Ph.D., CPsych; and Karin Olson, RN, Ph.D. Originally published in Integrative Cancer Therapies 6(1);2007 pp. 25–35.