acupuncture and breast cancer

Breast Cancer Awareness: Treating Side Effects with Acupuncture

Life for women can be stressful. If you’re a mother with children, you take care of the kids and keep the household running. Perhaps you’re also building a career, navigating the pitfalls of balancing work and home life. No matter how you shake it, you’ve got a lot of people depending on you to be strong and resilient. Throw on top of all this a destructive disease like breast cancer, and you might not have much strength left for yourself. You want to help those close to you, but first, you must take care of yourself.

Some of the most challenging aspects of cancer treatment are the side effects that arise from chemo, radiation, and other therapies that treat the illness. Nausea, vomiting, pain, fatigue and hot flashes increase discomfort for breast cancer patients, often leading to low morale, which is essential to recovery. To combat these side effects, doctors will often prescribe even more medication, but these often have side effects, too, not to mention that they can also interact negatively with other medications you may already be taking.

What is needed is a treatment free of adverse effects, a treatment that does not interact with other medicines. This article will outline the effectiveness of Acupuncture in the alleviation of side effects arising from cancer treatments.

Acupuncture and Chemo-Induced Nausea and Vomiting

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2000 demonstrates the effectiveness of Acupuncture in comparison to Western medicine. In the study, 104 women receiving chemotherapy for breast cancer were given different treatments for their chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. These women were divided into three groups:

  • Group A received a traditional anti-nausea medication
  • Group B received electro-Acupuncture
  • Group C received traditional Acupuncture

According to the data gathered, patients who received electro-Acupuncture or traditional Acupuncture had a significant decrease in the frequency and intensity of nausea episodes.

Acupuncture and Hot Flashes

In another study carried out at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, researchers reviewed the use of Acupuncture in the alleviation of post-chemotherapy fatigue. The results of the study show that there was a 31% decrease in patients who experienced fatigue and a 50% reduction in women who experience hot flashes.

Acupuncture for Post-Operative Nausea, Vomiting, and Pain

A randomized trial conducted by researchers at Duke University compared the treatment of postoperative nausea, vomiting, and pain. The trial enrolled 40 participants undergoing breast cancer surgery. The study divided the women into three groups receiving different or no treatment for their symptoms: ondansetron (Zofran), Acupuncture, and no treatment.

How Does Acupuncture Work?

Acupuncture corrects the flow of the human vital energy, qi. In a healthy body, this energy travels unobstructed along pathways in the body, called meridians. Illness arises when qi is out of balance or otherwise blocked from certain parts of the body. To promote a healthy qi distribution, an acupuncturist inserts fine needles at different points in the skin, depending on where the qi is blocked.  The insertion of needles activates the nervous system by opening the flow of qi to the body, thus bringing qi back into balance and the body into a state of healthiness.

Being diagnosed with breast cancer is truly life-changing. The fight is difficult enough without the side effects of medicine making you sick or uncomfortable. Because every woman reacts differently to it, traditional medication may not be right for everyone. A single session of Acupuncture can leave you feeling de-stressed and pain-free.

Acupuncturist Dr. Litman of Miami has worked with many breast cancer patients to reduce symptoms and side effects such as hot flashes, pain, nausea, and vomiting, giving them comfort on their journey to recovery. To learn more about how Acupuncture can diminish the side effects of breast cancer treatment or to schedule an evaluation, please call us today.