On this day’s, acupuncture is frequently used in cancer centers as an alternative way to treat some of the symptoms related to cancer therapies. But before taking acupuncture as your cancer treatment, you need to know some facts about it.
What Exactly Is Acupuncture?
The term acupuncture, is used to describe a 2000-year-old Chinese therapy. According to acupuncture’s philosophy, there is a vital energy known as “Qi”. This energy flows in our body through some invisible energetic paths called “Meridians”. Sometimes our meridians get blocked, and this is the reason why we get sick and develop different medical conditions.
The task of an acupuncturist is the manipulation of the “Qi” in order to unblock the meridians and return the balance to our body. They achieve this by inserting special needles in specific points of the body.
On this day’s, 1.4 percent of the population uses acupuncture as an alternative way to treat different diseases.
Acupuncture for Cancer Patients
Many people doubt the effectiveness of alternative treatments such as acupuncture, but it has been proved that acupuncture can really work as an effective treatment for many medical conditions. For cancer patients, acupuncture is used as a complement to their regular treatment (chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery).
There are not many studies about acupuncture’s effectiveness for cancer patients, but some specialists suggest that it can help for some cancer-related problems like:
Some studies have shown that acupuncture helps relieving some of chemotherapy’s side effects, such as nausea and vomiting. Oncologist recommended to be careful about taking acupuncture sessions after having chemotherapy due to the high risk of infections. This is why they suggest to take the acupuncture therapy before having the chemotherapy.
Acupuncture helps to relieve cancer-related pain, not only from cancer itself but also from surgery. You need to keep in mind that acupuncture is not a replacement for pain medication, but it can help to reduce the amount of pain medication cancer patients need to take.
- Depression and Anxiety
Many cancer patients, struggle with depressions and anxiety as result from their medical condition. Acupuncture has been found to be an effective way to help with these two problems.
- Sleeping Issues
This problem is really common among cancer patients, and acupuncture is a good method to improve the quality of sleep.
- Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy
A small study revealed that acupuncture can be used as a way to control the pain caused by chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy.
- Immune Deficit
Specialists have found, that acupuncture is a great alternative to improve the immunological system of cancer patients.
Let’s Know About Acupuncture!
Scientists are still trying to know how acupuncture affects the human body, in order to understand why it has such a positive effect. Some teories explain, how acupuncture works affecting the nerve cells. Another theory says, that acupuncture focuses directly on the brain, making it release chemicals such as endorphins.
It’s very important to take in consideration, that one side effect of cancer and cancer treatments is the “neutropenia”. Neutropenia affects the count of white blood cells in your system, as a result it decreases the body’s ability to fight infections. Before having an acupuncture treatment, you must consult your oncologist.
As well, a platelet count deficit increases the risk of blood loss.
We need to keep in mind that the risks associated with acupuncture are not that common, but still we need to know about the possible dangerous side-effects of this treatment:
- Uncomfortable sensations
- Damage to the organs
The first step of acupuncture treatment is knowing about the current health condition of the patient. According to the Chinese tradition, tongue diagnosis is a good method to know which health issues the patient might have.
After the initial health check, the patient must lie down on a special table designed for acupuncture sessions. The next step is the insertion of the needles. In this part of the treatment, the acupuncturist will wipe the areas with alcohol, and then, it will place between 5 and 20 special needles around the patient’s body. The needles will stay in place for 15 to 30 minutes. Even when it sounds as an uncomfortable procedure, the size of the needles is between 12 and 40 millimeters, which means, it is hard to even feel them. After the session, you may not feel any immediate effect, rather than a relaxing or energizing sensation.
How to Find an Acupuncture Treatment
On this days, acupuncture is common in cancer centers, to offer acupuncture therapies as a complement for regular cancer treatments. This is a good method to get in contact with a real and certified acupuncturist.
Does Medical Insurance Cover Acupuncture Treatment?
Many insurance companies cover acupuncture as complementary therapy for cancer patients, it is easier if the cancer center is the one that recommends it. Sometimes, the insurers request that sessions must be taken with a licensed acupuncturist.
Results of Acupuncture in Cancer Patients
Medical specialists are still not sure about the effects of acupuncture on cancer patients, due to the lack of scientific evidence. Some of the benefits that cancer patients have described are: decreased fatigue, peripheral neuropathy improvement and diminish of sleep disruption.