Acupuncture and Cancer Care

Claims about the magical healing powers of acupuncture abound, from helping with seemingly silly problems (like hiccups) to more serious issues (such as overcoming infertility).

But what are the facts when it comes to acupuncture and cancer care?

Why turn to Acupuncture?

Receiving a cancer diagnosis is guaranteed to turn your life upside down, and not surprisingly, patients want to use every weapon at their disposal to deal with this unwanted presence in their lives.

It’s also common to be left wondering which is the hardest to endure – the symptoms and pain associated with the cancer itself, or the side effects of cancer treatment!

There have been reports of acupuncture having a positive effect on common symptoms and side effects such as insomnia and fatigue, hot flashes, numbness, tingling and pain in the hands and feet, as well as boosting that all-important blood cell count. I’ve also had clients say that acupuncture has helped to ease their anxiety and boosted their sense of wellbeing, during what is often an arduous, protracted, and traumatic treatment journey.

3 Ways Acupuncture May Help

Here’s what science has revealed:

  1. Studies suggest that acupuncture plus drug therapy is more effective than conventional drug therapy alone, for alleviating cancer-related pain (1).
  2. One of the most dreaded side-effects of chemotherapy is nausea and vomiting. While this may be minimised with medication, many patients prefer the idea of a drug-free approach to this aspect of their cancer care. Evidence is growing to support the claim that acupuncture may indeed help to relieve chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (2-5).
  3. In the aftermath of radiation treatment, patients often suffer from problems with dry mouth. Recent advances in acupuncture clinical research, appear to confirm that it may be helpful in stimulating salivary production (3, 6) .

Research is continuing into the field of acupuncture and cancer care, and I plan to share the latest findings periodically here on the website.

If you are interested in making acupuncture part of your cancer care plan, you can make an appointment with me via the Contact Page at the Sydney location closest to you: Kogarah, Rozelle, Northbridge, or Stanmore.

Helen Efstathiou

References:

  1. Caiqiong Hu, Haibo Zhang, Wanyin Wu, et al., “Acupuncture for Pain Management in Cancer: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2016, Article ID 1720239, 13 pages, 2016. https://doi.org/10.1155/2016/1720239.
  2. Acupuncture for Palliative and Supportive Cancer Care: A Systematic Review of Systematic Reviews. Ernst, Edzard Lee, Myeong Soo et al. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management , Volume 40 , Issue 1 , e3 – e5
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2642987/
  4. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/hp/acupuncture-pdq
  5. Wu, X. et al. Effectiveness of acupuncture and related therapies for palliative care of cancer: overview of systematic reviews. Sci. Rep. 5, 16776; doi: 10.1038/srep16776 (2015).
  6. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2225411016301985

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