According to recent estimates by the World Health Organization, cancer in its various forms is the cause of 13.3% of deaths worldwide, 19.3% of deaths in the United States alone (1). Over 1.5 million new cases are diagnosed every year in the United States. Particularly prevalent in the United States is mesothelioma, a form of cancer that affects the protective lining of internal organs, predominantly the lining of the lungs, heart, abdominal cavity, and testes. Excessive use of asbestos in architecture during the 1970s and 80s has been linked to the high incidence of mesothelioma in the United States, with death rates increasing significantly each year (2). Despite various pharmacological, chemotherapeutic, and surgical therapies for cancerous growth, including mesothelioma, the prognosis of the disease is very poor.
In light of the low success rate for current medical treatments of cancer, much research in alternative medicine therapies has begun in recent years. The motivation for study in these alternative therapies is to find an effective combination of clinical and psychological treatments of cancer. Such combinations of alternative medicine with current medical treatments may lead to a better prognosis for mesothelioma and cancer overall. One particularly promising alternative medicine therapy is the Emotional Freedom Technique, abbreviated EFT. Developed by Gary Craig two decades ago, EFT is a psychotherapeutic method of relieving the psychological and emotional consequences of disease, such as fear and anxiety. In essence, EFT is a non-invasive manner of triggering and desensitizing acupressure points located all over the body, causing a holistic betterment of the psyche and emotional condition. Proponents of EFT emphasize the benefits of its “energy psychology” approach in aiding cancer recovery.
EFT, in conjunction with other drug or surgical therapies, can improve cancer prognosis by complementing biological treatment with psychological improvements. Cancer is an emotionally taxing ailment, and current chemotherapy and surgical procedures only exacerbate this emotional drain. Thus, it is plausible to claim that alternative medicine therapies like EFT can prove to be extremely effective in the future as a complementary cancer treatment option. The outlook for such combination therapies is promising in providing an all-encompassing treatment for one of the most malignant diseases on the planet.
Reiki is one of many alternative healing practices being used to reduce stress and promote healing. Derived from the Japanese words for “Higher Power” and “life force energy”, the ancient healing art is performed by trained practitioners who place their hands near or lightly on the body to channel energy. It may also be administered to oneself with little training.
Used both to maintain good health and to create conditions for the body to repair itself, Reiki has recently been endorsed by Dr Mehmet Oz, one of the nation’s leading cardiologists and talk show hosts. As its benefits become increasingly more well-known, the practice is also gaining favor as an adjunct to traditional medical treatments. It is now being used in many hospitals to decrease the discomfort of treatments for cancer and to relieve symptoms of chronic diseases.
Because Reiki is “transferred” by a master teacher to a student in a process called an “attunement”, it is easily learned and practiced - thus allowing the recipient to tap into an unlimited source of universal energy for healing both oneself and others. The energy that supports life flows throughout the body and nourishes its organs and tissues. When negative thoughts or trauma disrupt its natural flow, energy is blocked or weakened. It is important to realize that Reiki does not heal illnesses; it helps to repair the energy field so that the body can resume its normal processes.
Although spiritual, the practice is not a part of any religion and requires no personal beliefs or dogma. Reiki does, however, promote a harmonious, ethical, and peaceful lifestyle that is compatible with the teachings of all cultures. Because Reiki’s energy comes from God, it may have positive spiritual and emotional components, as well as physical ones.
While all energy healers channel energy, Reiki is different from other styles because it can only be accessed by being passed from a Reiki Master to a student. Energy healers who use other methods may also be attuned to Reiki, and many report an increase in energetic ability as a result. The use of symbols is one of the ways Reiki energy is channeled, and some masters stress the importance of intention. Regardless, the energy is said to have an intelligence of its own that directs it to the area of the body where it is needed.
The American Cancer Society has endorsed Reiki as a form or complementary medicine for mesothelioma and other kinds of debilitating malignancies, and many hospitals now hire Reiki practitioners. Although more studies are needed to prove the benefits of Reiki in cancer care, it appears to help patients feel better without creating side effects.