Can reiki help with chronic conditions

While many people may visit a Reiki practitioner with the idea of reducing stress or achieving mental and physical balance, others wonder if this form of energy healing can be effective in battling chronic diseases and health concerns. The intense relaxation associated with Reiki is the precise reason it can help battle cancer, heart disease, chronic pain, and other severe health issues.

What’s going on

Different types of energy healing have been used for thousands of years; the current Reiki healing style dates to the late 1800s and a Japanese master, Mikao Usui, who discovered and shared this method of palm healing. Usui used Reiki to bring comfort to people with a variety of maladies. Today, Reiki is practiced worldwide and has become accepted enough in the United States that it is even sometimes offered in hospitals. 

Reiki practitioners may have individual differences in how they conduct treatment sessions; however, the basics remain the same. During a Reiki session, the fully clothed patient will assume a relaxed position, either sitting in a comfortable chair or lying down. The Reiki healer will place their hands lightly on or hover over specific areas to target the patient’s body’s energy fields. The practitioner will place their hands on one spot for two to five minutes before moving on to another area of the body. The healer is not attempting to physically manipulate the patient’s body, but rather to transfer energy to the patient to affect the patient’s emotional and physical well-being positively. 

When someone is being treated for a serious affliction such as cancer or heart disease, there is often stress and fear associated with the disease itself, as well as with traditional medical treatments. Reiki sessions offer a safe, comforting place that can work in conjunction with more traditional medical treatments. “It has been effective in helping virtually every known illness and malady and always creates a beneficial effect. It also works in conjunction with all other medical or therapeutic techniques to relieve side effects and promote recovery,” states the International Center for Reiki Training.[i]

When addressing chronic health conditions using Reiki, do not expect magic. “Typically, a client with a chronic condition does not experience an immediate healing,” writes Reiki master Deborah Lloyd of North Carolina.One hour of Reiki generally does not take away a condition that has been a part of the client’s life for months, or years—although miracles are always a possibility.” [ii]

Lloyd writes from experience, having suffered from polio as a toddler and post-polio health concerns—such as difficulties walking and severe chronic fatigue—as an adult. The fatigue began to leave her body during her first Reiki session, but improvements to her chronic condition have happened over the span of many years. She writes that her limp continued to improve through years of Reiki treatment, and her fears associated with falling have been released. “My chronic condition continues to be a part of my life. By using Reiki every day of my life, the healing continues.”

Reiki can help improve the overall sense of wellbeing.

Reiki and heart disease

A Yale-New Haven Hospital trial studied patients who received a 20-minute Reiki treatment within three days after suffering a heart attack. The results were published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.[iii] The study showed that these patients experienced improved mood and heart rate variability (HRV), which is a factor closely watched in the days following a heart attack. People suffering from acute coronary syndrome (ACS) are at risk for another heart event. The Yale-New Haven study took a look at non-invasive, non-drug measures that might help with recovery. One group of twelve patients recovering from ACS rested quietly without interruption. The second group of thirteen patients listened to classical music. The third group of twelve patients received 20-minute Reiki treatments from Reiki-trained clinical nurses. The nurses placed their hands lightly on each patient’s head and torso in seven standardized positions.  The patients receiving Reiki treatment reported the most positive changes in emotional state and HRV.  Reiki master Ellen Gregg of New Hampshire further testifies Reiki’s heart health benefits from her personal experience. Gregg was inspired by Reiki master Pamela Miles, one of the Yale-New Haven study co-authors, to practice daily Reiki self-care. When she walked into the hospital suffering from congestive heart failure brought on by a virus, she remained calm thanks to her daily self-practice of Reiki. “Amidst all the turmoil, the vitals checks, the out-of-control, and erratic heart rate, and the lack of sleep, I was deeply calm. Every chance I had, I placed my hands on myself: chest, abdomen, arms – any part of me I could access past wires and tubes,” writes Gregg.[iv]

One nurse had a chance to observe Gregg during an intense episode when her heart rate spiked from 64 to 181 within a few seconds: 

I placed my left hand on my heart. My ICU nurse watched as my heart rate returned to a sedate 64. She looked at me, eyebrows raised.

I said, “Reiki practice.”

She said, “Keep it up.”

Gregg asserts that her Reiki self-practice kept bringing her body and mind back into balance even during this stressful health event, allowing her body to heal more easily.

Reiki and cancer treatment

Reiki also can have a positive effect on cancer patients, according to a 2017 article by Tim Newman in Medical News Today. The cancer patients may feel better after Reiki treatments because it helps them to relax. “Another reason, according to Cancer Research U.K., could be that the therapist spends time with them and touches them. This has a soothing effect on patients who may be overwhelmed by invasive therapy, fear, and stress,” writes Newman. “Individuals report different experiences. Some say that the practitioner’s hands become hot, others report cooling hands, and some people feel pulsating waves. The most common reports are of a release of stress and deep relaxation.”[v] A release of stress is obviously beneficial when fighting any chronic disease, but studies have shown that Reiki may encourage healing for undergoing traditional cancer treatment. “These studies have found that, although Reiki is not a substitute for other cancer treatments, it may enhance these treatments and offer several benefits to patients as they deal with the symptoms and stresses of cancer,” states an article by the International Association of Reiki Professionals.[vi]

Reiki and chronic pain

People who have chronic pain—ongoing pain that has lasted for longer than three to six months—may also benefit from Reiki treatments. Chronic pain may be caused by a host of reasons, from an old injury to poor posture. Dependency on pain relief medication to perform daily functions is obviously not the ideal solution.

Some small studies “suggest that patients may use Reiki to find relief from not only the physical aspects of chronic pain but also the anxiety that often comes with it.”[vii] Once again, the treatments tend to help patients relax and improve their overall sense of well-being. Regardless of the chronic health condition being addressed, Reiki therapy offers a similar hope: restoring mental and physical balance, inducing relaxation, and encouraging healing.

[i] “What is Reiki?,” The International Center for Reiki Training, accessed January 26, 2021,

[ii] Deborah Lloyd, “Healing Chronic Conditions through Reiki,” Reiki Rays, July 29, 2015,

[iii] Rachel S.C. Friedman, Matthew M. Burg, Pamela Miles, Forrester Lee, and Rachel Lampert, “Effects of Reiki on Autonomic Activity after Acute Coronary Syndrome,” Journal of the American College of Cardiology 56, no. 12 (2010),

[iv] Pamela Miles and Ellen Gregg, “Reiki Healing Congestive Heart Failure and Anxiety,” Reiki, Medicine & Self Care with Pamela Miles, July 6, 2013,

[v] Tim Newman, “Everything you need to know about Reiki,” Medical News Today, September 6, 2017,

[vi] “How Reiki Helps Cancer Patients,” International Association of Reiki Professionals, accessed January 26, 2021,

[vii] “Reiki and Chronic Pain: Can Reiki Help Provide Comfort for the Chronic Pain Epidemic?,” International Association of Reiki Professionals, accessed January 27, 2021,


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Felicity Nicole
Felicity Nicole
Owner , She Is You
I’m Felicity Nicole, and I was born and raised in the Chicagoland area. A tomboy at heart, I can be found hair up, favorite sweatshirt on, cooking up something yummy for my family. I am remarried to a wonderful man who totally gets me (woohoo!)., It turns out God does give us second chances! I am now a stepmom to two adult children who are super beautiful and a nonstop blessing in my life. Watching my son play baseball is by far my greatest joy. I am a transformational coach and Reiki Practitioner on a mission to help women redesign their lives. This mission comes directly from my own personal experience with self-discovery. From an abusive marriage to a healthy, fulfilling relationship, through multiple careers and a lifetime of coaching the women in my own life, what I realized is that I have always had power and tenacity deep within me…I just needed to let it thrive again. My courage and determination to walk away into the unknown and redesign my own story is a shining example that where there’s a will there’s a way. On the lighter side, I like my pizza thick and layered in meat and cheese (remember, I’m from Chicago). I spent 22 years in the veterinary field, where I brought home WAY too many fur babies. And if I had one thing to bring with me to a desert island, it would be coffee.
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