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Acupuncture & Anti-cancer Therapy

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

Can acupuncture help? This is one of the top questions I’m asked either by the patient themselves, a family member, loved one or friend.

https://2ndnaturehealing.janeapp.com/, Complementary Therapy by Highly Qualified and Experienced Practitioners, Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Therapy, Chiropractic, Massage, Reflexology at 2nd Nature Healing Center, Beit Shemesh

In the past decades Acupuncture and other Complementary Medicine programs have been introduced in many major medical centers due to the fact that research has demonstrated acupuncture to be an effective and a safe adjunct therapy for cancer care. Acupuncture and other complementary Medicine are prescribed to relieve a variety of symptoms and conditions associated with cancer and the side effects of cancer treatments.


Randomized clinical trials report that acupuncture is beneficial for the management of:

  • anxiety and stress

  • Breathlessness ( Dyspnea)

  • constipation

  • depression and mood changes

  • dry mouth

  • fatigue, tiredness

  • hot flushes

  • chemotherapy-related neutropenia ( low level of neutrophils. Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell. All white blood cells help the body fight infection).

  • nausea and vomiting,

  • neuropathy ( nerve damage causing shooting pain, numbness, tingling).

  • pain

  • sleep disorders


The evidence is not meant to show that acupuncture can treat or cure cancer but that Acupuncture can relieve some cancer symptoms and side effects from treatment.

Generally all cancer patients can benefit from acupuncture to help alleviate or even prevent side effects of the whole spectrum of Anti-cancer Therapy: Chemotherapy, Radiotherapy, Biological Therapy, Hormonal Therapy, Immunotherapy, Surgery...


Acupuncture can also increase the efficacy of Immunotherapy cancer treatment as research has shown that Acupuncture can boost our Immune System.


Immune system regulation is key in not only improving cancer treatment outcomes, but also in preventing secondary cancer development. If cancer cells are allowed to proliferate, it is due to a weakness in the immune system. Most conventional cancer therapies that are administered such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy end up severely damaging the immune system. So even if a patient becomes cancer free at some point, the underlying cause of the cancer formation has not been resolved. Acupuncture for first time cancer patients is in my opinion extremely important to stay in remission. Once the patient is free of cancer, they usually return for regular maintenance acupuncture treatments 4-12 times a year.



How does acupuncture work?



https://2ndnaturehealing.janeapp.com/, Complementary Therapy by Highly Qualified and Experienced Practitioners, Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Therapy, Chiropractic, Massage, Reflexology at 2nd Nature Healing Center, Beit Shemesh

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture treatment influences life force energy, called qi or chi, that flows through the body along channels called meridians. The flow of qi through the meridians indicates a person's health. If there is a disruption in one’s qi, acupuncture is used to restore the flow and bring the person back in “balance” and to optimal health.

Neuroscience research suggests that acupuncture works by modifying the nervous system through stimulation of specific points throughout the body. The application of very fine needles to these points, releases neurotransmitters, like endorphins and serotonin, that relieve pain and stimulate feelings of well-being.

The most common form of acupuncture involves the placement of solid, sterile, thin, stainless steel needles into various points on the body. Different techniques such as manual stimulation, electrical stimulation, and application of heat can be used to stimulate the needles.



Research Review



https://2ndnaturehealing.janeapp.com/, Complementary Therapy by Highly Qualified and Experienced Practitioners, Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Therapy, Chiropractic, Massage, Reflexology at 2nd Nature Healing Center, Beit Shemesh

Acupuncture for anxiety and mood changes Several studies have looked at how acupuncture can help to reduce anxiety and mood changes. A review study in 2017 found that acupuncture can relieve anxiety.

Additionally, many report less stress, anxiety, being more mentally alert and feeling more emotionally stable. There are specific acupuncture points that can help improve sleep and calm the nervous system down.


Several small studies have looked into acupuncture or acupressure for cancer related breathlessness. A 2020 review found some evidence that acupuncture might help relieve breathlessness. Researchers looked at acupuncture and morphine as a treatment for breathlessness. They compared: Acupuncture only / Morphine only / a combination of Acupuncture & Morphine.

They found that they all relieved breathlessness But Acupuncture had an increased benefit as it also relieved anxiety. They suggested that Acupuncture was a good alternative to morphine.


Hot flushes and sweats are a common side effect of treatment. This is more common in people having treatment for breast, prostate or womb cancers. Several studies have had varying results on the use of acupuncture for hot flushes. The AcCliMaT study in 2016 was with people with breast cancer who had hot flushes. It found that people who had acupuncture, had fewer symptoms. A review study in 2017 said that acupuncture had an effect on improving hot flushes.


https://2ndnaturehealing.janeapp.com/, Complementary Therapy by Highly Qualified and Experienced Practitioners, Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Therapy, Chiropractic, Massage, Reflexology at 2nd Nature Healing Center, Beit Shemesh

Acupuncture is used for a dry mouth (xerostomia). This is a common side effect in people having radiotherapy for head and neck cancers. Some people choose to have acupuncture for pain and dry mouth after neck surgery or a dry mouth in advanced cancer. A review study in 2021 said that acupuncture was a safe treatment. It suggested that doctors could use it as a complementary therapy to help relieve symptoms and improve digestion and quality of life. In 2013, a small trial 145 patients who had had radiotherapy to their head and neck, found that acupuncture gave them relief from their dry mouth.


Acupuncture for nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy One of the most impactful research to date has been done to evaluate the effect of acupuncture on chemotherapy induced nausea. According to the National Cancer Institute, there is clear evidence that needle acupuncture is efficacious for postoperative and chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting.


A small study has looked at using acupuncture to reduce symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. Symptoms may include numbness, tingling, sensation changes in the hands and feet. It can impair Quality of life. It sometimes lasts for years.

The team found in this small trial, that adding a 10 week course of acupuncture to usual treatment helped improve the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy.


Some research reviews have shown positive results for acupuncture in controlling pain such as joint pain and stiffness. Joint pain is a common side effect of aromatase inhibitors. These are a type of hormone treatment for breast cancer. Another recent review in 2021 found that acupuncture and painkillers helped to reduce pain. This was compared to using painkillers alone.


Tiredness (fatigue) after chemotherapy is hard to manage and can have a big effect on Quality of life. It sometimes lasts for years.

A review study in 2017 found that acupuncture might have a positive effect on tiredness in breast cancer patients. An analysis in 2018 found acupuncture to be an effective treatment for cancer related fatigue. The analysis looked into a total of 1327 patients across 10 trials.

Research concluded that acupuncture should be recommended for fatigue in cancer patients.



TCM and Immunotherapy in cancer Therapy


https://2ndnaturehealing.janeapp.com/, Complementary Therapy by Highly Qualified and Experienced Practitioners, Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Therapy, Chiropractic, Massage, Reflexology at 2nd Nature Healing Center, Beit Shemesh

Cancer immunotherapy has led to a new era of cancer treatment strategies.

Researchers wondered why the immune system doesn't recognize cancer cells as foreign bodies and fight them?

Research revealed that cancer cells gradually develop a protective proteins. These proteins allow the cancer cells to disguise their appearance, conceal their real identity. The immune system doesn't recognize them as enemies and doesn't attack them, therefore cancer cells continue to multiply.

The role of Immunotherapy in cancer therapy is to blocks those protective proteins. Cancer cells are then exposed as enemies and thereof the immune system attacks them.

We can understand that having a strong immune system will enhance immune efficacy and help win this fight.


Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) plays a complementary role in the Immunotherapy treatment of cancer. It "strengthens the body (Fu-Zheng)" and "eliminates evil (Qu-Xie)" . "Strengthening the body" means enhancing the body's anti-cancer immunity, while " eliminating evil " directly inhibits tumor cell growth and migration.


Visit our Blogs or Click here to learn more how complementary therapy in the form of Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Remedies, Chiropractic, Massage, Reflexology support your Immune System.


How to choose an Acupuncturist

It is important to find a trained and experienced Acupuncturist. Diplomats of acupuncture have at least four years of academic training at the master’s level, must pass rigorous exams, meet state licensing. Make sure that the practitioner has experience in using acupuncture for people with cancer.


Although acupuncture is generally safe for patients of all ages when provided by well-trained practitioners, there are key areas of caution for some patients. If you are considering acupuncture, tell the practitioner everything about your medical history before starting treatment.


Area of caution

Some of the herbs can interact with cancer treatments. Many traditional Chinese acupuncturists use herbs alongside acupuncture. Please inform your therapist and oncologist..

Lymphedema: do not have needles inserted in that area. There are concerns that acupuncture in the area could increase the risk of infection. (Sometimes, breast cancer surgery includes removing lymph nodes under your arms and possibly damaging nearby lymph vessels. If you have had lymph nodes removed, please notify your acupuncturist.



Conclusion


It is well established and proven that Acupuncture can help relieve cancer symptoms and side effects from treatment, and Improve Quality of Life even for those in hospice care.

Generally all cancer patients can benefit from acupuncture to help alleviate or even prevent side effects of the whole spectrum of Anti-cancer Therapy: Chemotherapy, Radiotherapy, Biological Therapy, Hormonal Therapy, Immunotherapy, Surgery...




Complementary Therapy by Highly Qualified and Experienced Practitioners:  https://2ndnaturehealing.janeapp.com/

Esther Hornstein and her Team at 2nd nature Healing Center,

34 Nachal Hakishon, Ramat Beit Shemesh Aleph, Israel



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