Widespread research suggests that acupuncture and other integrative treatments can help with symptoms of chemotherapy in patients battling cancer. Read below for the update on experiencing chemotherapy with acupuncture.

The Research Behind It

In 2018 a study published in the World Journal of Acupuncture-Moxibustion looked at the effect of acupuncture treatments on rectal cancer patients who were experiencing hand-foot syndrome caused by their chemotherapy treatments. Hand-foot syndrome is a known side effect of chemotherapy.  Hand-foot syndrome symptoms include;

  • redness
  • swelling
  • tingling
  • numbness
  • itching & pain in the palms of the hands and soles of the feet

person on beach, their feet on a rock person leaning down to touch the foot

Researchers found acupuncture significantly reduced all of the symptoms associated with hand-foot syndrome to the extent they considered 17 percent of patients completely cured and the treatments were significantly effective in 70 percent of patients.

Studies Following Experiencing Chemotherapy With Acupuncture

To conduct the study, researchers from Chongqing Cancer Institute recruited 60 patients with rectal cancer undergoing chemotherapy. Half of the patients received acupuncture. The other half were treated simply by taking B6 vitamins. Their hand-foot syndrome was scored using two internationally recognized scales indicating symptom severity and physical disability. The patients in the acupuncture group received 30-minute treatments every day for two weeks. The patients in the B6 vitamin group took the supplement daily for two weeks.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, hand-foot syndrome indicates the following;

  • poor qi and blood circulation
  • a deficiency in qi and blood or dampness
  • numbness and pain

man putting head in hands to wall looking defeated.

These acupuncture treatments were directed at promoting blood and qi circulation and removing stagnation. After the treatments, patients in both groups showed improvement. Symptoms and physical disabilities for the patients in the acupuncture group decreased significantly more than for the patients in the B6 vitamin group. Based on the analysis of the scores, in the acupuncture group, there were 5 cured, 16 effective, and 9 ineffective cases, yielding a total effective rate of 70.0%. This means their symptom score was downgraded to the lowest possible number on the scale! The treatments were effective for 70 percent of patients compared with 36 percent of patients in the B6 vitamin group. The report concludes, “The results demonstrate that an integrative model of patient care utilizing acupuncture as a treatment modality produces significantly less adverse effects associated with chemotherapy.”

Additionally, research consistently shows acupuncture is effective at increasing circulation throughout the body therefore improving the flow of blood and producing nutrients to injured cells, muscles and tissues. At Integrative Acupuncture, we have a skilled set of providers in both of our locations whom can help treat you in any stage of your cancer care. View our website here and schedule a visit with one of our compassionate acupuncturists!