Guest post by Dr. Marina Abrams, ND, MSAOM.
Dr. Abrams is the Medical Director of Water’s Edge Natural Medicine, a naturopathic clinic specializing in holistic health and anti-aging treatments, located in Seattle, Washington. She can be found on Twitter @WatersEdgeMed.
Treating Cancer with Acupuncture
Acupuncture is an ancient healing modality in which practitioners insert thin needles into the skin. This process is used to treat a wide variety of conditions. Many techniques may be used, including acupressure (no needles) and electrical/ sound wave acupuncture, which may use electrical charges to stimulate the needled areas. No matter what type is chosen, acupuncture can be beneficial to cancer patients in a variety of ways.
How Does It Work?
The Chinese, who developed acupuncture and have used the system for centuries, employ the modality as an anaesthetic during surgery that also helps to relieve stress and cure chronic conditions. Needles or pressure are applied along invisible channels in the body, called meridians. These meridians are said to carry qi, or vital energy, and coordinate with the organ systems of the body. Blockages or imbalances in the qi are believed to cause illness in both the body and mind.
The acclaimed book, The Web That Has No Weaver by Ted J. Kaptchuk, discusses the Chinese method of diagnosis, in which cause and effect are fluid and the symptoms of disease are often also viewed as the causes. This philosophy allows practitioners to work with the energy systems of patients as “environments” and build immunity while eliminating toxins from the body.
How Does Acupuncture Help Cancer Patients?
Acupuncture can be used to treat symptoms of both cancer and cancer treatment, including:
Nausea and Pain
Clinical studies have shown the practice to alleviate states of extreme nausea brought on by both the cancer itself as well as chemotherapy and surgical anaesthesia. Regular acupuncture may also decrease pain. Patients who receive consistent treatments have been shown to require lower doses of pain medication during and after chemotherapy and radiation.
Cancer and chemotherapy both exhaust the body. Frequent acupuncture treatments can increase patients’ vitality and energy.
According to the Journal of Clinical Oncology, those who receive regular acupuncture see a decrease in the frequency and intensity of hot flashes, decreases far exceeding those experienced with the commonly-used medication, Venlazafine.
Acupuncture has repeatedly proven to improve the activity of lymphocytes as well as natural killer (NK) cells, both of which help patients fight against destructive cancer cells.
Cancer can take a serious toll on the emotional well-being of patients and their families. Self-care treatments, like acupuncture, can boost patients’ mood and nervous system for an enhanced quality of life despite their illness.
Undergoing cancer and chemotherapy can be an incredibly taxing experience for both the patient and patient’s family. Healing treatments like acupuncture can help soothe the body, increase vitality, and decrease pain and nausea. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with cancer, reaching out to a naturopath or Chinese Medicine physician can be a healthy step.