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A Japanese term meaning "life force energy", Reiki promotes the belief that spiritual energy can be channeled through a trained Reiki practitioner to heal a patient's spirit. With its roots in ancient Tibet, Reiki was said to have been rediscovered in 1914 by a Buddhist monk who then devised the Usui system of Reiki, which was later introduced to the West in the 1930s. This is the system still taught today.

Basically, Reiki embraces the concept of universal energy, as do many other Eastern healing arts. Reiki enthusiasts believe that a master trained or "attuned" to the ways of the technique can "give Reiki" to himself or others, therefore promoting a feeling of healing and profound relaxation.

More and more cancer patients, including mesothelioma patients, are giving Reiki a try, note experts in cancer treatment, including organizations like the American Cancer Society. Doctors are now recommending this alternative treatment for pain relief, to hasten recovery after mesothelioma surgery, and to reduce the side effects of certain medications, including chemotherapy. Hospitals are including Reiki practitioners on their staff. For example, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, known for its holistic approach to cancer care, offers Reiki therapy at its facilities as do many other major mesothelioma clinics in the United States.

How it Works

The Reiki practitioner uses his or her hands to deliver the therapy. The hands are placed in anywhere from 12 to 15 positions on or above the patient's clothed body. The hands are held at each position for about 2 to 5 minutes for a total of about an hour per session. Most Reiki practitioners recommend 3 sessions in a relatively short period of time, followed by a break and then 3 more sessions for optimal results.

There are three levels of Reiki practitioners. A Level 1 practitioner can do hands-on sessions such as the one described above. A Level 2 practitioner or Level 3 master can perform hands-on therapy as well as "distance" Reiki. This is the belief that healing universal life energy can be transmitted to someone who is not present. Many malignant mesothelioma cancer patients ask their practitioners to send Reiki to their doctors and other members of their medical team.

The Results

Those who promote Reiki as a sound alternative treatment for mesothelioma cancer and other diseases propose that when the energy paths of the body are blocked, illness can occur. The practitioner strives to unblock the paths and realign the flow of energy. Cancer patients who have had success with Reiki note that their pain decreases, their sleeping improves, the overwhelming feeling of tension decreases, and that they experience an overall feeling of well-being after the treatments.

In the meantime, more scientific exploration and research is underway in an attempt to understand more about how and why Reiki works and how it can continue to help those with cancer and other serious illnesses.

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