Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine continue to gain acceptance in the West, they are increasingly being used in conjunction with Western conventional medicine to treat a range of conditions, including cancer. As one of the leading causes of death in North America, cancer is a disease that few can ignore. Similar to conventional medicine, Oriental medicine attributes cancer to one or a combination of factors such as genetics, lifestyle and environment.
Acupuncture has received a lot of attention as an adjunctive therapy in cancer treatments for its pain relief, reducing side effects, accelerating recovery and improving quality of life. The standard medical care for cancer is effective, however the treatments are very aggressive and cause numerous unwanted side effects as well as a lowered immune system. According to the National Cancer Institute, acupuncture may cause physical response in the nerve cells, the pituitary gland and parts of the brain. These responses cause the body to release proteins, hormones and brain chemicals that control several body functions. Acupuncture affects blood pressure and body temperature, boosts immune system activity and cause the body to produce natural painkillers, such as endorphins. Acupuncture has shown the most success in the treatment of nausea and vomiting, dry mouth, night sweats, hot flashes, stress, anxiety, fatigue, pain management and the increase of white blood cell count.
The Montefiore Medical Center in New York is now offering Acupuncture to their young patients in their oncology department as reported by The Early show. The hospital program offers Acupuncture to their cancer patients as a way of helping them manage pain and symptoms from side effects of traditional treatments. Montefiore is just one of many hospitals offering alternative therapy services to cancer patients.
The strongest evidence of the effect of Acupuncture came from clinical trials on the use of acupuncture to relieve nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy, surgery and morning sickness. Studies have shown that for many cancer patients the treatment with Acupuncture either relieves symptoms or keeps them from getting worse. Acupuncture is a powerful tool for pain control and is less known for its success use in cancer-related pain and in reducing narcotic use thereby minimizing side effects. The results from Acupuncture treatment is dependent on various clinical factors such as presenting symptoms, clinical staging and areas of involvement.
Cancer is not a death sentence. It is a life changing experience not only for those who have it, but for others as well. Educating ourselves as to what options are available for treatment and overall healing can only improve our opportunities to live healthier lives.
If you would like to learn more about how Acupuncture can safely and effectively be incorporated into care for people with cancer, please call an Acupuncture physician in your area for a consultation.
Source: National Cancer Institute. www.cancer.org