Accupuncture for Chemotherapy Side Effects

Personal Experience

I made sure to set up Acupuncture appointments 4 days after each Chemo session.  The reason for the delay was to wait until I was no longer ‘glowing’ or toxic! 🙂

According to my Oncologist, I went through Chemo treatments much better than many other patients. I attribute that to the supplements I took and specific foods I ate that targeted the side effects, to acupuncture and to massage therapy sessions, as well as walking 20 minutes most days.  My nausea was minimal and only lasted 24 hours, with only one dose of the meds.

I still have acupuncture once a month.  It helps my liver stay happy and the toxins to keep moving out of my system, as well as removing any energy block.  Be sure to ask for a referral to a TCM trained acupuncturist.  Mine is a wonderful woman who apprenticed with a Chinese doctor in China.

What is acupuncture?

  Acupuncture applies needles, heat, pressure, and other treatments to certain places on the skin to cause a change in the physical functions of the body. The use of acupuncture is part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). TCM is a medical system that has been used for thousands of years to prevent, diagnose, and treat disease.

Acupuncture is based on the belief that qi (vital energy) flows through the body along a network of paths, called meridians. Qi is said to affect a person’s spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical condition.

How does it Work?

According to TCM, qi has two forces, yin and yang. Yin and yang are opposite forces that work together to form a whole. The forces of yin and yang depend on each other and are made from each other in an unending cycle, such as hot and cold, day and night, and health and disease. Nothing is ever all yin or all yang, both exist in all things, including people.

Many of the major organs of the body are believed to be yin-yang pairs that must be in balance to be healthy. When a person’s yin and yang are not in balance, qi can become blocked.  Blocked qi causes pain, illness, or other health problems.  TCM uses acupuncture,  diet, herbal therapy, meditation, physical exercise, and massage to restore health by unblocking qi and correcting the balance of yin and yang within the person.

Acupuncture may cause physical responses in nerve cells, the pituitary gland, and parts of the brain.  These responses can cause the body to release proteins, hormones, and brain chemicals that control a number of body functions.  It is proposed that, in this way, acupuncture affects blood pressure and body temperature, boosts immune system activity, and causes the body’s natural painkillers, such as endorphins, to be released.

Which Side Effects Can it Relieve?

1. 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.

A study of acupuncture, vitamin B6 injections, or both for nausea and vomiting in patients treated with chemotherapy for ovarian cancer found that acupuncture and vitamin B6 together gave more relief from vomiting than acupuncture or vitamin B6 alone.

A study of acupressure for relief of nausea and vomiting was done in women undergoing chemotherapy. The study found that acupressure applied to an acupuncture point with a wristband helped to decrease nausea and vomiting and reduced the amount of medicine the women used for those symptoms.

2. 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.

3. A randomized study of patients with cancer-related fatigue found that those who had a series of acupuncture treatments had less fatigue compared to those who had acupressure or sham acupressure treatments.

4. Hormone therapy may cause hot flashes in women with breast cancer and men withprostate cancer. Some studies have shown that acupuncture may be effective in relieving hot flashes in these patients.

5. Human studies on the effect of acupuncture have shown that it changes immune system response.

Source: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/acupuncture/patient/page1

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