Acupuncture is a complementary treatment approach that works for many symptoms and side effects of cancer. In this post, you’ll learn how acupuncture in cancer works and some recommendations regarding the use of this approach.
What is acupuncture in cancer?
Acupuncture involves the practice of placing specific needles into the body at particular points. The needles stay firmly in place for a short period of time. Then after that, the therapist/practitioner removes them from your skin.
In fact, this treatment approach traced back to the traditional East Asian medicine system. To be more exact, it first started in China and became a crucial part of the country’s medical system around 2000 years ago. According to ancient Chinese, the energy named Qi flows through our body and moves along the meridians. Acupuncture changes the direction of this flow to restore energy and maintain our well-being.
Western medical acupuncture, on the other hand, bases on scientific research to deduce a modern interpretation of the method. Usually, the therapist performs acupuncture after a thorough medical diagnosis or alongside conventional medicine such as drugs or radiotherapy.
Acupuncture in cancer – Why people with cancer use it?
Medical studies and research shows that acupuncture in cancer works by stimulating nerves. It releases endorphins, the natural morphine-like substances in the spinal cord and brain. That way, it helps to relieve pain. At the same time, the approach also releases serotonin, a pain reliever to promote a feeling of well-being. Ultimately, the two substances can reduce and alleviate cancer symptoms such as:
- Dry mouth
- Tiredness and weakness
- Hot flushes due to anti-cancer treatments
People say that acupuncture sessions help them feel relaxed and improve their feeling of well-being. At the same time, acupuncture has also been shown to ease the negative effects of radiation and chemotherapy, including::
- Night sweats
- Lack of appetite
- Weight loss
- Diarrhea or constipation
Acupuncture has the added advantage of having virtually no side effects, and of enhancing energy and clear thinking. It also reduces joint pain and stiffness in postmenopausal breast cancer patients who have received aromatase inhibitors.
How to have acupuncture in cancer
The therapist will ask you some general questions about your lifestyle and overall health. This may include your diet, sleeping pattern, and how you’re feeling both emotionally and physically. All you need to do is frankly tell him about any health problems you have and medicines you take. Tell them about the cancer symptoms or treatment side effects you are experiencing. They may need to change the procedure to suit your specific needs.
Discuss how many treatments you will need beforehand as it will be different during the process. At first, your doctor may recommend taking the session once or twice a week. You may need to pay a visit again every few weeks for additional treatment if you have a chronic illness. The improvement shows up in about 3 to 6 sessions if acupuncture helps you.
Treatment usually begins with just a few needles. This may change depending on your reaction and the symptoms you experience. Your doctor will insert fine, disposable, and stainless steel needles into your skin.
The needles should not be painful, but you may experience a tingling sensation. They stay on for 10 to 30 minutes. The practitioner can snap or rotate the needle to stimulate your nerves. Or, they can attach a weak current to the needle once it is in This is called an electric shock.
Sometimes the therapist leaves a special very small needle on the skin. This is for persistent symptom relief. With ear acupuncture (atrioventricular), the practitioner places a needle or small bead (acupressure seed) on the outer part of the ear. It can stay in place for a few days. Your doctor can also instruct you in a specific way to self-acupuncture at home.
Check with your doctor before you start any additional or alternative type of treatment. Make sure your acupuncture therapist is well-informed about your complete medical and medication history.
Side effects of acupuncture in cancer
Acupuncture is generally safe and has very few side effects, provided that it is performed by a professional and qualified practitioner. The most common side effects were bruising and mild bleeding. This happens in 3 out of 100 people (3%).
Some people may experience a temporary increase in pain. Pain relief may follow. Sometimes you will feel dizzy or faint. Fainting occurs in about 1 in 100 treatments (1%). If you lie down for treatment, chances are the side effects won’t show up.