The term "energy therapies" is used to describe practices, including Reiki
, external Qi Gong
, therapeutic touch
, and bioenergetics
, that involve nonlocal interactions - that is, interactions in which there is relatively little or no physical contact between the practitioner and the patient.
Some of these practices originated in non-Western cultures; others were developed in the West but show the influence of non-Western concepts.
Energy therapies involve the use of energy fields.
- Biofield therapies
that affect energy fields surrounding the human body (though the presence of these fields has not been scientifically proven) like Reiki
and therapeutic touch
and qi gong.
Reiki is defined as spiritually guided life force, the manipulation of energy surrounding the patient. In therapeutic touch, contrary to the name, the healers move their hands a few inches above the patient’s body to sweep away blockages from the patient’s energy field.
- Bioelectromagnetic-based therapies
involve the unconventional use of electromagnetic fields such as pulse fields, magnetic fields or alternating-current or direct-current fields.
Patients with cancer may seek these forms of complementary therapy when they feel that conventional medicine has failed, for symptom control and comfort and a better sense of well being.
Adapted from Deng G, Cassileth B. Complementary Therapies in Palliative Medicine. Hanks G, Cherny NI, Christakis NA, Fallon M, Kaasa S, Portenoy RK (Ed). Oxford Textbook of Palliative Medicine. Oxford University Press, Fourth Edition, 2010, pp.1519-1526.