Researchers at Huddersfield University conducted detailed interviews with ten women at local hospices who had received Reiki therapy – a Japanese ‘energy healing’ technique which critics have dismissed as “quack medicine”.
They discovered benefits such as a release of emotional strain and feelings of peace and relaxation.
The team believes there is a case for Reiki being available on the NHS.
The findings will be presented at a conference in Leeds on March 19-20 and larger-scale research could follow.
Dr Serena McCluskey, a senior research follow at the University, said: “Acupuncture and other techniques that were regarded as quite unorthodox are prescribed on the NHS, so we just thought that more research on Reiki was needed.
“We are not suggesting that we can establish scientific effectiveness, but we are adding to the body of evidence for the quality of life benefits it has for women with cancer.”
The study found that the benefits could last for as long as a fortnight.
The research involved Dr Maxine Stead, who is a practitioner of Reiki and the owner of a holistic spa in Huddersfield.
Dr Stead said Reiki gave the women “an escape from what they were going through.”
She added: “We don’t know exactly how and why birds migrate to the other side of the world and come back to the same place every year. But one day we might be able to – and the same goes for Reiki.”