Acupuncture has received much attention as an adjunctive therapy in cancer treatments for its use in pain relief, reducing side effects, accelerating recovery and improving quality of life. It can be used to address many of the concerns that come up during and after chemotherapy, radiation, biological therapy and surgery.
Areas that acupuncture has shown the most promise include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dry mouth, night sweats and hot flashes
- Stress, anxiety and fatigue
- Pain management
- Increasing white blood cell count
The strongest evidence of the effect of acupuncture has come from clinical trials on the use of acupuncture to relieve nausea and vomiting. Several types of clinical trials using different acupuncture methods showed acupuncture reduced nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy, surgery, and morning sickness. It appears to be more effective in preventing vomiting than in reducing nausea.
Clinical trials are studying the effects of acupuncture on cancer and symptoms caused by cancer treatment, including weight loss, cough, chest pain, fever, anxiety, depression, night sweats, hot flashes, dry mouth, speech problems, and fluid in the arms or legs. Studies have shown that, for many patients, treatment with acupuncture either relieves symptoms or keeps them from getting worse.
A side effect of chemotherapy, peripheral neuropathy is the uncomfortable sensation of “pins and needles” or burning pain (especially at night) in the hands or feet. This is caused by damage to the peripheral nervous system, which transmits information from the brain and spinal cord to every other part of the body. Studies have suggested that acupuncture is an effective treatment for peripheral neuropathy.
Boosting the Immune System
Human studies on the effect of acupuncture on the immune system of cancer patients showed that it improved immune system response, including increasing the number of white blood cells.
In clinical studies, acupuncture reduced the amount of pain in some cancer patients. In one study, most of the patients treated with acupuncture were able to stop taking drugs for pain relief or to take smaller doses.
If you need support for the side effects of chemotherapy, surgery or recent surgery, please contact us to schedule your appointment with Karen.