Hospitals and leading cancer treatment centers across the country agree that integrative care is the best way to treat cancer and support patients, survivors, and caregivers. Acupuncture provides substantial reduction in symptoms from cancer treatments and allows for patients to more comfortably and successfully complete the care regimens developed by their doctors. Read below to find out some of the ways that acupuncture and Chinese medicine are a crucial part of this integrative team.
Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV)
Nausea is one of the most common side effects of chemotherapy and often one of the most debilitating for patients. Acupuncture has proven safe and effective in preventing and reducing the nausea associated with chemotherapeutic agents (both acute and delayed nausea).
Many undergoing treatment of breast cancer with the use of aromatase-inhibitors (AI) report joint pain, or arthralgia. The American Society of Clinical Oncology found that acupuncture (and electro-acupuncture) significantly improved AI-induced arthralgia and is a safe and effective way to reduce this pain.
Acupuncture also helps to relieve post-operative pain, pain caused by tumors themselves, and can be very helpful in palliative care.
Hot flashes (and night sweats) are common side-effects of certain cancer drugs including the popular tamoxifen. This can greatly impact the quality of life for many patients. Fortunately, the use of acupuncture and herbal medicine can reduce the intensity and frequency of hot flashes.
Dry Mouth / Xerostomia
Xerostomia, or dry mouth, can occur when radiation treatment damage the parotid glands of the mouth and effectively stop salivation. This leads to difficulty with eating and speaking and can cause tooth decay and other oral hygiene issues. Acupuncture, performed near the times of radiation have shown to reduce the effects of radiation on these glands and can help prevent xerostomia. Herbal therapies to prevent and reduce xerostomia is a personal interest of mine and I am currently researching the possibilities. To learn more, please contact me.
Fatigue is one of the most common complaints of people currently undergoing cancer treatment as well as of survivors. Acupuncture, yoga, and tai chi have been found to combat this fatigue and help people return to their normal daily lives.
Stress and emotional support
The emotional toll of cancer can last from the immediate seconds after a diagnosis to years into remission and survivorship. Different emotions and stressors may arise along the course and each person experiences this in their own way. My job as an acupuncturist and supporter is not suppress or eliminate these emotional changes, but to help you express and navigate through them.
Survivors face a unique set of issues that is not always addressed by their primary care physicians or oncologists. Survivors often suffer from anxiety, depression, fatigue, lasting physical problems due to cancer treatment, and may even feel lost despite their healthy status. The holistic nature of Chinese medicine allows for these issues to be understood and addressed so the individual is not only cancer-free, but truly healthy and restored.
Caregivers often give selflessly and endlessly to help their loved ones combat cancer. In the whirlwind of doctor’s appointments, treatments, surgeries, etc…caregivers forget to care for themselves, too, leading to both emotional and physical health problems. Acupuncture is an easy way to incorporate self-care into the hectic environment of caring for someone with cancer. We best help others when we take care of ourselves first.