An article published in Mercer County Women
Acupuncture is the use of thin needles inserted at various areas of the body to treat numerous conditions. The needles are usually left in anywhere from 20-60 minutes. The treatment is pain free. Both the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society report acupuncture may be effective as an adjunct therapy for the treatment of side effects associated with Chemotherapy. Acupuncture is not used to treat cancer but aide in the side effects of cancer treatment.
The National Cancer Institute reports Acupuncture may elicit a response in nerve cells, the pituitary gland, and parts of the brain. The body then releases hormones and chemicals that control the several body functions and alter the perception of pain. It is proposed that Acupuncture effects blood pressure, body temperature, boosts the immune system, and releases endorphins- the body’s natural painkillers.
According to the National Institute of Cancer and American Cancer Society the use of acupuncture is effective for
· Dry mouth
· Night sweats
· Hot Flashes
· Post-operative pain control
· Weight loss
Some cancer patients experience xerostomia (dry mouth) and difficulty swallowing. According to a 2002 study in the American Cancer Society journal that a regimen of three to four weekly treatments is recommended. A 2005 study at University of Maryland Dental School reported patients increase in salivary flow and an improvement in the ability to eat and speak, as well as improved sleep.
Patients at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center experienced persistent fatigue post chemotherapy. A group of patients received acupuncture twice a week for 4 weeks and some once a week for 6 weeks. 31% percent of patients reported a decrease in fatigue level after 2 weeks of treatment. There was no significant difference in patients that received treatment twice a week and once a week.
A report published in the journal of clinical oncology concluded acupuncture significantly reduced pain in cancer patients where pain had continued despite being treated with analgesics. During the clinical trail 36% of patients receiving acupuncture reported a reduction in pain
Nausea and Vomiting
A 2005 study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology assed the effectiveness of acupuncture in chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting and found electroacupuncture is beneficial adjunct therapy.
Acupuncture should be used as an aid to alleviate treatment related side effects of cancer. Several hospitals and centers are integrating acupuncture as part of cancer care.