Can reiki help fight breast cancer?
Reiki is a Japanese healing technique based on the belief that spiritual energy can be channeled through a practitioner to strengthen a patient's spirit and help unleash the body's healing powers. It is a spiritual technique but not a religion, and there is nothing you must believe in order to use it. Here are some answers to some Reiki (pronounced ray-key) basics:

How does it work? Proponents say that by laying hands on a patient's body or redirecting positive energy from a distance, a practitioner can realign and strengthen the body's flow of energy, thereby easing pain, relaxing muscles and improving sleep.

What is a session like? The practitioner places his or her hands in 12-15 positions on or above parts of the patient's clothed body, according to the American Cancer Society. The hands are intended to help balance energy within and around the body. Hands are held in place for two to five minutes in each position. A Reiki session usually lasts about one hour.

Is there evidence it works? There is no scientific evidence to show Reiki works as a treatment for breast cancer or any other disease, says the ACS. However, patient testimonials about improved relaxation and well-being are numerous.

Can practitioners get licensed? Certifications for trained practitioners are available from Reiki organizations. But they are not regulated by any federal agency. Reiki classes are taught all over the country and in many parts of the world, according to the International Center for Reiki Training. Class schedules, listed by state, are available at

Is there a down side? Reiki involves light touch or no touch so it is considered safe, the ACS says. Using it in place of traditional medical treatment, though, can have serious consequences.