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Featured Service: Reiki

Featured Service: Reiki

Integrated Medicine: ReikiMost people can appreciate that there is more to regaining your health than medical technology can address. Patients experience a great deal of anxiety when they get sick, and modern medicine may not even address serious stressful events that may have been going on before a patient fell ill. Many research studies have shown that anxiety can interfere with the body’s ability to heal.

Reiki, an ancient, healing art of balancing the electrical fields in and around your body, can help to alleviate symptoms and stressors that medical treatments are not able to heal. Studies show that there are electrical energy fields in and around the human body and that these fields can be affected by touch. We don’t know the exact effects of these changes in the energy fields; however, we do know that taking the time to slow down and relax calms the nervous system and decreases the output of stress hormones that can harm the body. Also, in our high-tech society, we sometimes forget that the touch of another person is a basic human need – there is something very calming and nurturing about having another person put their hands on your in a caring way.

While receiving a Reiki treatment, you remain clothed while you sit in a chair or lie down. A Reiki practitioner will lightly touch 12 to 15 different locations on your body, including your head, shoulders, arms, stomach, legs and feet. Each light touch lasts approximately one to three minutes. During a treatment, you may feel warmth or tingling in the area being treated, but mostly you will feel a sense of relaxation.

Research regarding Reiki’s effects on health is in its early stages, but studies so far have shown that Reiki has the ability to decrease fatigue and improve quality of life for cancer patients. Reiki has also been shown to bring about both physical and psychological relaxation in healthy adults experiencing stress. Studies on therapeutic touch, a similar form of relaxing touch therapy, have shown decreased levels of anxiety in hospital patients, improved circulation measures, decreased length of stay, and fewer complications. Reiki appears to be generally safe, with no serious side effects.

Allegheny General Hospital’s Integrated Medicine Program has recognized for years that healing involves the mind, body and spirit, which is why we have run our part-time volunteer Reiki program since 2002. Reiki volunteers provide complementary sessions for a variety of patients, including our inpatient population, outpatient chemotherapy and outpatient renal dialysis patients.

The program has been widely accepted and very popular. The program has even received letters stating that patients have to come to AGH for care because of the availability of Reiki treatments. Feedback received from AGH patients after receiving Reiki treatment indicates that patients often feel more relaxed, less anxious and more comfortable and are better able to sleep. When Reiki and relaxation tapes were used for patients undergoing heart surgery, patients had shorter lengths of stay in the hospital, spent less time in the intensive care unit, used less pain medication and required less frequent blood transfusions.

Reiki is one of several relaxation methods that can be used to improve general health and lessen the effects of illness.

Please keep in mind, Reiki should not be used as a substitute for proven conventional medical care or to postpone a medical evaluation for a possibly serious symptom. You should always tell your healthcare providers about any complementary therapies you use.