U of S : Communications : OCN : Apr 24, 1998

Nursing researcher receives funding
for unconventional breast cancer therapy

Dr. Ahlam Mansour, of the College of Nursing, has received a $20,000 grant from the Canadian Breast Cancer Research Initiative (CBCRI) to conduct a feasibility study of the effects of Reiki [pron. ray-key], a so-called energy medicine involving the application of what she terms "universal life energy" through hands-on techniques (see box below).

The grant is one of only six awarded in a national competition in which 47 submissions were received by the CBCRI, which is a granting agency housed in the National Cancer Institute of Canada, Toronto.

Dr. Mansour, herself "a second-degree Reiki" [of three levels of mastery], says there's an abundance of anecdotal records and some emerging scientific evidence that Reiki is effective in decreasing physical problems and anxiety associated with illness.

"But to date," she adds, "no rigorous studies have been undertaken into its efficacy. Our study will be to investigate the effects of Reiki on the level of anxiety, physical problems, spiritual well-being, and complete blood counts in breast cancer patients undergoing their initial (AC) chemotherapy."

She says she and her nine-person team* will soon begin a partially-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial to test for the effectiveness of the therapy.

"We hope that the feasibility study will provide enough data to determine whether or not to proceed to a full-scale study on the efficacy of Reiki in reducing the side-effects of chemotherapy and the emotional problems breast cancer patients generally experience."

* The team members include: Dr. Mansour; Dr. Gail Laing, a professor in Nursing; Marion Bueche, a Reiki master, who practices in Regina; Dr. Barbara Walley, an oncologist at the Saskatoon Cancer Clinic; Dr. Anne Leis, a psychologist in Community Health and Epidemiology (CHE); Dr. Alanna Danilkewich, a family physician at the RUH; Judy Nurse, a research coordinator in CHE; and Pat Homenick, Peg Schmidt, and Olga Stefaniuk, breast cancer survivors.

The ancient knowledge of Reiki

Although the word Reiki comes from Japanese - ki meaning energy and rei meaning universal - the healing techniques that are said to emanate from the life energy it draws from are common to many ancient cultures - Tibetan, Chinese, Roman, Egyptian, Greek, Indian, to name but a few.

In ancient cultures knowledge of, or mastery of, Reiki - or its linguistic equivalents - was limited to priests or spiritual leaders, who passed it on to disciples by word of mouth and/or by cryptic language and symbols.

Awareness of this mystical/spiritual knowledge might have been lost but for its re-discovery last century in ancient Sanskrit manuscripts by Dr. Mikao Usui. Questing as a Christian to try to learn more about Jesus' healing powers, Usui retreated to a mountain where he was enlightened and gifted with healing powers, which he subsequently practised on the ill and oppressed in Kyoto.

Exponents of Reiki hold that "Reiki masters" - who have made themselves an open "channel" for Reiki - can apply the life energies that pervade all living things to individuals who are ill.

Hawayo Takata (1900-1980), a woman whose illnesses healed following Reiki therapy in Japan in 1935, is responsible for teaching Reiki masters now living in North America.

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