A key component of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), acupuncture has been practiced for more than 3 millennia. Today, acupuncture is practiced in many parts of the world for treating numerous ailments. Countless people all over the world undergo acupuncture sessions daily with the help of licensed and trained practitioners for either treatment of a medical condition or to alleviate the symptoms arising from the treatment of an ailment. Millions of people know acupuncture to be effective for pain relief.
Can acupuncture help with cancer?
- Should people struggling with various cancer-related symptoms consider undergoing acupuncture sessions?
- Can licensed acupuncturists help cancer patients?
- Is the usefulness of acupuncture for cancer patients backed by research?
Here in this post, we will try to answer all these questions for you.
First, let’s understand the basics.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
Acupuncture treatment is based on restoring the life force energy in the body. This life force energy, known as qi or chi, flows through the human body along numerous channels. These channels are referred to as meridians.
Various illnesses, poor lifestyle habits, stress, and other unhealthy situations result in blockages along these meridians, thereby causing disruption in the flow of chi. Board-certified and licensed acupuncture practitioners at our wellness clinic help restore the flow of chi by using tiny, sterile needles.
As per neuroscience research, acupuncture treatment works by stimulating specific points along the meridians. Thus, the treatment results in modification of the nervous system.
Qualified acupuncturists use different techniques for placing solid, stainless steel needles at various points on the human body, depending upon the illness or disease symptom that needs to be addressed.
Three methods used for the application of acupuncture needles are:
- Manual stimulation of acupuncture needles – Post insertion, an acupuncturist will twist, turn, and pull the tiny needles up & down to achieve the desired outcome
- Electrical stimulation of acupuncture needles – A licensed acupuncturist will use a an advanced handheld device to send electrical pulses along the needles; the electrical pulses are sent at different frequencies depending upon the condition being addressed
- Heat stimulation of acupuncture needles – Dried herbs, positioned on top of the needles are burned to achieve heat stimulation. Some acupuncturists also use infrared devices to achieve similar outcomes.
Acupuncture Can Help With Cancer – Is this Claim Backed by Science?
An increasingly large number of cancer hospitals and other healthcare institutions around the globe are now integrating acupuncture into cancer. This is a growing trend in the United States. Several studies conducted over the last three decades indicate the growing popularity of complementary and alternative therapy. Today, there is a growing body of research that focuses on the use of acupuncture in oncology care.
A recent medical study titled “The Value of Acupuncture in Cancer Care” has demonstrated that acupuncture is a safe & effective supplemental treatment for patients experiencing certain symptoms related to cancer.
So, if you are wondering whether acupuncture can help with cancer, the answer is ‘yes, it can!’
The application of acupuncture for oncology care is now backed by scientific research reports published in the United States.
Here are some key highlights of recent research on the usefulness of acupuncture for cancer patients –
- Acupuncture Can Help Deal With Symptoms Arising from Cancer Treatment: A randomized clinical trial, involving the study of breast cancer patients, who were receiving intensive chemotherapy, demonstrated that electro-acupuncture was helpful in achieving emesis control; emesis management is generally a serious challenge in cases involving high-dose chemotherapy; the study suggested that patients who underwent electro-acupuncture were experienced fewer episodes of emesis in comparison to those who received only minimum needling or pharmacology.
- Acupuncture Can Help Alleviate Pain in Cancer Patients: A randomized, controlled, and blind trial conducted by researchers established that auricular acupuncture can help reduce cancer pain. A complementary treatment approach used for pain management in cancer patients for several decades, auricular acupuncture’s efficacy for reducing pain in cancer patients is now well known. Several researchers have studied the analgesic effect of auricular acupuncture for cancer pain in the past; they have used scientific Visual Analog Scores (VAS) to measure the reduction in pain intensity.
- Acupuncture Can Be Helpful in Chemotherapy-related Neutropenia: Chemotherapy-induced leukopenia & neutropenia are among the most common side effects that arise during cancer treatment. For these complications, many cancer treatment specialists now recommend acupuncture as an adjunct therapy.
- Acupuncture Can Help Manage Several Cancer Symptoms: A study involving more than 300 cancer patients has shown that acupuncture can help address numerous cancer symptoms, including physical pain, mental fatigue, anxiety, etc.
Besides the above-mentioned uses, acupuncture is widely recommended as an adjunct therapy for –
- Managing nausea and vomiting induced by chemotherapy during cancer treatment
- Controlling xerostomia induced by radiation therapy during cancer treatment
- Managing/reducing hot flashes in hormone treatment of cancer
- Reducing joint pain during aromatase inhibitor therapy
Over the last few years, new research has poured in that suggests acupuncture may also help cancer patients deal with insomnia, loss of appetite, constipation, peripheral neuropathy, dyspnea, leucopenia, and anxiety.
Acupuncture for Oncology Care – Consult A Licensed Acupuncturist
Numerous research studies and clinical trials conducted by oncologists over the last four decades have shown that acupuncture is indeed helpful as an adjunct therapy for cancer patients. It can help alleviate pain and address dozens of different symptoms discussed above. More rigorous double-blinded trials focused on studying the efficacy of acupuncture for oncology care too are beginning to pour in. If you’d like to know how acupuncture can help you or a loved one, consult a board-certified acupuncturist today. An experienced acupuncturist can help you better understand how this ancient treatment system focused on restoring the energy balance in the body can help in your case in particular. You can schedule an appointment with one of our licensed acupuncturists anytime.