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Acupuncture in Cancer Care

Posted 12/2/2016

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  Acupuncture is generally included in the long list of CAM (complementary/alternative therapies) that are utilized by many people going through and following cancer treatment. It has a much longer history than some other things and, as we know, is utilized and respected throughout the world. A few insurance policies will cover at least some acupuncture, but it is not always a natural fit for coverage. Sadly.

  Although I have never personally had acupuncture, I have known many people who found if highly effective for pain control, general sense of well-being, sleep, and anxiety. This is an excellent summary from Cancer Net:

Can Acupuncture Help Relieve Cancer Pain and Other Side Effects?

Dr. Scott Ling is the Chief Chinese Medicine Practitioner and Acupuncturist and the founder of Sustain
Health in Melbourne, Australia. Dr. Ling has a special interest in cancer care and has extensive
experience in treating cancer with Chinese medicine and acupuncture.
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and acupuncture have been practiced for more than 3,000 years. In
some parts of the world, acupuncture is used to treat many ailments. According to the National Cancer
Institute, “acupuncture applies needles, heat, pressure, and other treatments to certain places on the
skin, called acupuncture points (or acupoints), to cause a change in the physical functions of the body.”
There’s a growing body of research on acupuncture and more is being discovered each day. Acupuncture
and TCM can be used to treat and help manage chronic health conditions and a number of symptoms.
More recently, acupuncture is being considered as an additional pain management option for people with
cancer receiving chemotherapy or surgery and for many common side effects after cancer treatment,
such as hot flashes, chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, and xerostomia (dry mouth).

How does acupuncture work?
According to TCM theory, acupuncture treatment influences life force energy, called qi or chi, that flows through the body along channels called meridians. The flow of qi through the meridians indicates a person's health. If there is a disruption in one’s qi, acupuncture is used to restore the flow and bring the person back in “balance” and to optimal health.
Neuroscience research suggests that acupuncture works by modifying the nervous system through stimulation of specific points throughout the body. The application of very fine needles to these points, or needling, releases neurotransmitters, like endorphins and serotonin, that relieve pain and stimulate feelings of well-being.

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