Acupuncture and Cancer: What You Need to Know

I get lots of questions about acupuncture and cancer. So what does acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine have to offer cancer prevention and treatment? A lot. In this article, I’m going to focus on how they help patients going through treatment.

The Cancer & Lifestyle Connection

I attended a great lecture on cancer and Chinese herbal medicine presented by Dr. Weidong Lu  who noted that breast cancer rates are significantly higher in Western countries than other parts of the world. As of 2002, the US, Europe, and Australia had significantly higher rates while China and Vietnam boasted the lowest. In recent years, the breast cancer rate in China is rising, especially in the bigger cities.

What does this information tell us? Well, not having all of the data, it could indicate several different factors, including more early detection methods in the West. However, some of the most significant information this data provides is that diet and lifestyle have an impact on the development of breast (and other) cancers and that there are things we can do to lower our risk of developing certain cancers. It is particularly interesting to note that as cities in China have more “access” to western foods and cultural influences, their previously lower breast cancer rates are rising.

I’ll be addressing changes you can make to your diet and lifestyle in a future issue of “The Healing Tree,” but for now, let’s talk about how acupuncture can help people going through cancer treatment.

How Acupuncture Helps Cancer Patients

While chemotherapy and radiation save and extend many lives, they also ravage the body, destroying healthy cells along with the sick ones and creating a host of severe side effects, including a decrease of health, immune function, and quality of life. Acupuncture can help tremendously to decrease the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatments for any type of cancer and improve overall health and quality of life.

Regular acupuncture during treatments will:

  •     Decrease or eliminate nausea
  •     Improve appetite and the ability to eat nourishing healing foods
  •     Improve both white and red blood cell counts. (When my mother was receiving acupuncture during heavy chemotherapy, she never once missed a chemo treatment due to low blood counts.)
  •     Improve immune function and prevent secondary illnesses/infections
  •     Reduce other side effects, such as neuropathies and pain
  •     Improve energy
  •     Decrease hot flashes and night sweating

Check out this article from The New York Times which discusses a study that demonstrates the success of acupuncture in reducing side effects of chemotherapy for breast cancer patients.

If you or someone you know is undergoing chemo or radiation, I’d be happy to provide a phone consultation free of charge and explain how acupuncture might help him or her. I’m connected with acupuncturists throughout the country, so even if my location isn’t ideal, I can likely refer the person to a practitioner in his or her area. Call 508-829-8094 or email me today.