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Cancer Care: How Acupuncture Helps

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Cancer Care: How Acupuncture Helps

Are you interested in learning about cancer and acupuncture? Continue scrolling to find out more!

“Cancer.”

It’s a diagnosis that no one wants to hear. Not to mention, this word can leave one feeling fearful, uncertain, and powerless. But if you or a loved one is facing cancer, it’s important to have hope. There are more treatments available now than ever before to help cure cancer or slow it from spreading, relieve its symptoms, and help you live a healthier life.

There are options in addition to standard medical therapies. Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) have been used for thousands of years to treat a wide variety of conditions. TCM can safely be used to naturally support your body and mind as you undergo conventional cancer treatments.

Understanding Cancer Treatments And Their Side Effects

As an overall term for a group of diseases that occur, cancer is when cells begin to reproduce abnormally, which then damages or kills healthy tissue. Most of them get their names according to where they begin in the body, and there are more than 100 different types. In fact, the most common are breast cancer, skin cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer.
Your treatment plan will be based on many factors, including the type and stage (how far it has spread) of the cancer and your overall health. It may be true that cancer treatments has been proven to be effective, however, they do have serious side effects to take into account. For example, the most common treatments include:

Surgery: Surgery is done to remove the cancer, if possible. It can be done alone or along with radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or biological therapy. 

Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is the use of medications to destroy cancer cells. Generally, this method lasts from 3 to 9 months, and can have side effects, including fatigue, nausea, vomiting, hair loss, early menopause, and hot flashes.

Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy is the use of high doses of radiation to destroy cancer cells. Side effects generally include fatigue, hair loss, and darkening of the skin at the site of the treatment.

Biological therapy: Biological therapy treatment boosts the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells. The type of therapy gives different side effects, but they can include rashes or swelling, flu-like symptoms, fatigue, nausea, and loss of appetite.

How Acupuncture And TCM Can Help With Cancer

Notably, acupuncture and TCM have been used for thousands of years to relieve symptoms and maintain health.

Practitioners treat imbalances in the body’s Qi, or vital energy, by inserting fine, sterile needles at specific points.
This method comes with few side effects, so it is safe with conventional cancer treatments.

In fact, in many cancer cases, it is recommended as a way to soothe and reduce side effects.

According to the National Institutes of Health1, it is effective in relieving:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Post-surgical pain
  • Vomiting

Additionally, it helps relieve stress, depression, and anxiety, thus greatly improving one’s quality of life.

With this in mind, it is important to remember that TCM is not a quick fix.

Treating The Person, Not Just The Disease

Acupuncture practitioners take a holistic, or whole-body, approach to cancer care. In short, this means that not only will the symptoms be considered, but also one’s lifestyle, emotional state, and overall health. When you work to improve your health and relieve your side effects, you are not only helping yourself get the most from conventional treatments, but you’re taking back the control of your own life. Thus, by adopting some simple lifestyle changes, you will be on your way towards a healthier, happier, pain-free life.

« Cancer Care Quick Facts »

Cancer treatments, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, is based on Fu Zheng Gu Ben principles. To clarify, Fu Zhen means strengthening what is correct. It is an immune enhancing herbal regimen using specific herbs. The objective is to give support and stimulate deep energy systems within the body to make it stronger and more resistant to degeneration. As for Gu Ben, it refers to strengthening and supporting the body to regenerate and repair.

Treatments may:

  • Remove toxins that may contribute to cancer
  • Increase the flow of blood and Qi
  • Take out accumulations of tissue that are believed to be the tumor
  • Restore self-regulation and balance among the Jing, Qi and Shen.

Resources:
1. NIH Consensus Conference. Acupuncture. JAMA 280 (17): 1518-24, 1998.
Acupunct Med. doi:10.1136/aim.2011.00406. A safety and efficacy pilot study of acupuncture for the treatment of chronic lymphedema.
Cancer Biol Ther. 2010 Aug;10(4):397-405
Understanding Cancer Treatment. WebMD. Accessed February 11, 2008. 
New Lung Cancer Guidelines Oppose General CT Screening – Lung Cancer Recommendations – Avoid Select Vitamins, Try Acupuncture. Chest, September 2007.
Acupuncture. American Cancer Society. May 25, 2007. Acupuncture.asp
Comprehensive cancer care: integrating alternative, complementary, and conventional therapies. Gordon JS, Curtin S. NY: Persus Publishing, 2000.

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