Acupuncture is one on many therapies that can help alleviate the side effects from chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery. It is a drug-free option to help control and improve side effects of chemotherapy and radiation, or following surgery. Acupuncture has been shown to potentially alleviate certain cancer related symptoms- like pain, nausea and fatigue, as an adjunct therapy in cancer care. We do our best to approach each patient with as much attention and care as possible.
From being given the diagnosis of cancer, to navigating all the information about the specific type and stage, understanding the treatment plan, and going through the various phases of treatment, a great deal of anxiety can be experienced. There is likely to be different kinds of physical discomfort to be managed throughout the treatment process. It’s important to be caring for the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs and to be aware of how they are affecting each other as one moves through cancer treatment.
With cancer treatment, hot flashes are a common side effect. This is often due to the sudden hormonal change of forced menopause for a woman or from the medication itself. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are very effective at creating a better balance of body temperature.
Peripheral neuropathy is a common side effect of chemotherapy. In our experience at National Life Cancer Center, we saw this specific symptom more frequently than others. This is when there is numbness and tingling at the hands and/or feet. By increasing circulation to these areas, acupuncture can help heal the nerves more quickly and recover normal sensation.
Chemotherapy-induced nausea was one of the first symptoms recognized by the World Health Organization as being effectively treated by acupuncture. This is a common side effect of many chemotherapy medications. Often anti-nausea medication is given along with chemotherapy in order to prevent this expected side effect. However, sometimes such medication is not enough to subdue the nausea, and the use of acupuncture can be very beneficial.
Much research has clearly shown that acupuncture is very effective at reducing pain. With surgically induced pain in cancer treatment, acupuncture is helpful by reducing local inflammation and stimulating pain-relieving chemicals, such as endorphins, from the brain. It further speeds healing by improving blood circulation to the area to allow greater arrival of nutrients needed for reconstruction. Acupuncture helps prevent potential infection and regulate other organ systems affected by the surgery.
Anxiety is a natural response to learning of a cancer diagnosis and to proceeding with the treatment plan. There is often uncertainty and potential uncomfortable side effects. Acupuncture focuses on keeping the body, mind and spirit calm and helps the natural emotions to not feel overwhelming.
It is common to experience sleep disturbance during cancer treatment. This may be due to anxiety, with excessive mental and emotional activity seeping into the nighttime hours not allowing the mind to settle. It may be due to sudden hormonal changes from the effects of treatment. We all recognize how important good sleep is in maintaining health. Acupuncture can help calm the mind and balance hormones to allow for better sleep.