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Health Tip

Acupuncture For Cancer Patients

Acupuncture is the ancient Chinese technique of inserting needles into the skin at certain pre-defined points of the body as a way to unblock the flow of body energy (chi) to allow it to return to a balanced state. Modern western science has been unable to completely explain why this works, however current thinking is that stimulation or re-routing of certain nerve impulses can cause changes in the chemical processes carrying on in the cells of certain tissues and areas. What science has been able to prove beyond any doubt is that acupuncture works, and it is especially effective at dealing with chronic and severe pain that doesn’t respond well to drugs or other western therapies.

Pain from cancer and treatments

One area where the pain management qualities of acupuncture have proven particularly useful is in the treatment of pain and some other symptoms in cancer sufferers. This can either be pain or discomfort caused by the cancer itself, or side effects of the various direct treatment methods used.


Apart from pain, nausea and vomiting as a result of chemotherapy for example is treated with acupuncture with very successful results. Scientific studies have shown it to be an extremely effective method of reducing nausea, although the research is considered out of date as many new anti-nausea drugs have become available since the original studies which may be more effective.

Whether treating pain or nausea and vomiting, acupuncture has been shown to have beneficial effects to overall feelings of wellbeing and relief of stress and anxiety, which are considered beneficial in all types of cancer treatment. Researchers are partially divided on this point as there is a body of thought that believes there is more of a placebo effect than actual results, but all agree that the results are provable and significant.

Types of acupuncture related therapy

These treatments can be either standard traditional acupuncture, electro acupuncture (where mild electrical impulses are transmitted between pairs of needles), acupressure (non-invasive massage technique that stimulates similar points on the body) or TENS (transdermal electrical nerve stimulation, which applies electric currents without breaking the skin).

Peripheral symptoms

Cancer patients often suffer peripheral symptoms, both from the disease and the treatments, such as nerve tingling and numbness, temperature fluctuations, tiredness and fatigue, breathlessness and dry mouth. All of these symptoms have been shown to be significantly reduced by the use of acupuncture although the exact mechanism is not yet completely understood. The low cost and minimal side effects of acupuncture make it an excellent therapy in almost all cases.

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