Acupuncture began more than 3,000 years ago and is an important part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). It involves the placement of very slender needles into the skin along predetermined points for therapeutic effect.
In Chinese medicine, it’s believed that acupuncture works by unblocking the flow of energy along channels, or “meridians.” The theory behind acupuncture is that when the body’s energy channels are blocked, discomfort results.
Benefits of Acupuncture
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year more than eight million Americans use acupuncture to treat different ailments. Studies have demonstrated its effectiveness in the treatment of a host of non-cancer-related health issues, such as back pain, chronic headaches, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, infertility, and hot flashes. Acupuncture is also safe, tolerable and effective for a range of side-effects resulting from conventional cancer treatments.
Relief Of Cancer Pain
40% of individuals with early or intermediate stage cancer and 90% with advanced cancer have moderate to severe pain, and acupuncture has a role in management of cancer pain. A recent study, published in Journal of Clinical Oncology, found that individuals receiving acupuncture experienced significant reductions in pain and dysfunction when compared with individuals receiving standard care.
Easing Chemo-Radiation Therapy Side-Effects
The preliminary data suggests acupuncture might be effective for chemotherapy-induced nausea, vomiting, fatigue, pain, leukopenia, radiation, therapy-induced xerostomia, insomnia, and anxiety.
A recent study reported acupuncture reduces some of these common side effects and produces fewer adverse effects than antidepressant, venlafaxine.
Another trial also suggested that acupuncture reduces vasomotor symptoms in breast cancer patients treated with adjuvant tamoxifen.
Increasing Quality of Life
Acupuncture can increase energy and provide a sense of well being to cancer sufferers. Another study, was done to examine the quality of life of breast cancer patients medicated with estrogen antagonists, two years after having acupuncture treatment for hot flashes.
Patients treated with acupuncture complained less of hot flashes, and had a more positive outlook on life.
Safety of Acupuncture
Although acupuncture is generally considered safe, it may cause dizziness, local internal bleeding, dermatitis, nerve damage, and/or increased pain (especially when the acupuncturist is not well-trained). A well-trained professional acupuncturist is very important for a better treatment result.