Just the word “cancer” evokes a strong response. Unfortunately, these days many of us have been diagnosed ourselves or have had a friend, family member, or another loved one diagnosed with varying forms of this disease. Many treatments are physically trying and emotionally exhausting. Acupuncture treatments provide comforting support during this time. I’ve treated patients at various stages of lung, breast, and prostate cancer. At times like this I am humbled by the relief that a few, simple, carefully placed needles provide.
As a clinician, I have observed treatments to be helpful in alleviating some of the common side effects of chemotherapy and radiation such as nausea, fatigue, joint pains, headaches, neuropathy, and night sweats. I have also noticed that patients seem less tense and more relaxed after treatments. My patients have reported that it helps them feel more like themselves and provides their only respite from all of the chaos. Many times they have gone from having a relatively normal life schedule to being inundated with medical appointments, tests, and procedures.
Acupuncture creates a strong relaxation response which aids in the healing process. In Chinese medicine emotional health and physical health are interconnected. It is normal and healthy to feel anger, fear, anxiety, sadness. We all experience these feelings at one time or another. Problems arise when we get fixated in one state and it is held in and not expressed. This disrupts the flow of energy in the body and creates an imbalance that can manifest as physical symptoms such as headaches, sleep disorders, and pain. If a patient already has these due to their medical treatments, the emotional and mental stress can worsen these symptoms. Acupuncture sessions balance the mind and the body and provide a safe place for patients to express how they feel about what they are going through.
Below are additional resources for background information and studies that have been done using acupuncture as a treatment to support cancer therapies.