Cancer care is a regular part of our practice. The practitioners of Integrative Acupuncture were part of implementing a strong acupuncture department at National Life Cancer Treatment Center in Berlin, VT. They have gained extended experience using acupuncture to support patients going through standard medical care for cancer including nausea.
Why Does Chemotherapy Cause Nausea?
When it comes to cancer treatment, it is chemotherapy that typically is causing the common side effect of nausea with or without vomiting. Radiation can also cause nausea depending on the area being treated. The “vomiting center” is stimulated when chemotherapy enters the body.
The medication is designed to destroy rapidly growing cells in the body, including cancer cells, but also disrupts cells lining the mouth, esophagus and stomach. This irritation additionally stimulates the nausea reflex. Persistent vomiting can lead to dehydration, causing low blood pressure, dizziness, muscle cramping, and potential damage to the heart, lungs, or kidneys.
Western Medical Treatment of Nausea
It is typical for anti-nausea medication to be given standardly along with certain chemotherapy to prevent this expected side effect. Various medications have been used throughout the evolution of cancer care to help suppress the stimulation of the vomiting center of the brain. It is often enough to minimize the nausea, preventing vomiting and allowing normal functioning.
If vomiting is happening, and dehydration becomes severe, an intravenous saline solution is given to help recover. It is a side effect of cancer treatment that can truly make one feel extremely poorly, not be functional and can be dangerous, so any treatment to reduce nausea and vomiting is welcomed.
Acupuncture Effectively Treats Nausea
The 1997 National Institutes of Health Consensus Statement mentions acupuncture’s efficacy in treating chemotherapy-induced nausea. This is one of the earlier public statements made about acupuncture by our country’s health care system. Specific acupuncture points have been rigorously studied for this purpose. People are often familiar with the point at our wrists, popularized by the use of anti-nausea bands worn for motion sickness.
Integrative Acupuncture’s experience with nausea in cancer care has shown that acupuncture is indeed quite effective at relieving the intensity and often taking away nausea completely. Despite the irritation by chemotherapy, acupuncture’s effect on calming the nervous system can reduce nausea and make the cancer treatment process much easier. Our treatments in Montpelier and Williston are effective at reducing nausea.