acupuncture for chemotherapy

Using Acupuncture for Chemotherapy Helps Reduce Nausea and Vomiting

Acupuncture has been gaining ground in the treatment of many conditions and side effects over the past few years. While not all experts agree on why and how well it works, one area in which the consensus seems firm is in the use of acupuncture to treat common side effects of chemotherapy.

According to numerous studies, acupuncture can be especially effective in treating nausea and vomiting that occur immediately after a chemo treatment. It can also relieve other symptoms, such as mouth dryness and general discomfort.

What Studies Say

In a study published in the Supportive Care in Cancer journal, eleven children and adolescents receiving chemotherapy received either antiemetic medication alone or together with acupuncture to alleviate side effects. According to researchers involved in the study, patients receiving acupuncture for chemotherapy not only experienced less nausea and vomiting, they were also more alert during treatment.

In 2006, The Cochrane Library conducted an analysis of numerous studies linking acupuncture to reduced side effects in chemo patients. In almost all studies, the use of acupuncture significantly reduced the appearance of acute nausea (the one that occurs during or immediately after a chemotherapy treatment). On the other hand, acupuncture was less effective in treating delayed nausea. Electro-acupuncture was also highly effective for the treatment of chemotherapy-induced acute vomiting.

Other Ways Acupuncture Can Help

While acupuncture for chemotherapy is mainly used to treat nausea and vomiting, new studies are looking into its use to treat other side effects of the treatments. One study, published on Complementary Therapies in Medicine, looked at the effect of six acupuncture sessions over a period of two weeks to help patients dealing with severe fatigue after their chemo treatments.

Patients who used acupuncture had a 36% improvement in their fatigue levels when compared to those who didn’t receive acupuncture treatment. The improvement was seen in physical fatigue and mental motivation, as well as in a general feeling of fatigue. While researchers point out that further work is needed to confirm results, acupuncture seems an effective aid to deal with cancer-related fatigue.

Promising Outlooks

Researchers are looking into new uses for acupuncture all the time. In a study published in the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, researchers pointed out that electro-acupuncture can have a positive effect on immune function when used at the same time as the chemotherapy treatments are administered. In fact, patients who participated in the study experienced an increase in their immune function, including better response of T cells, as well as better activity of NK cells after a chemotherapy treatment. In comparison, patients who did not receive acupuncture for chemotherapy had lower levels of these cells after treatment.

Perhaps even more interesting is a recent Yale University study that looked into the use of acupuncture to reduce hot flashes in women receiving chemotherapy for breast cancer. While hot flashes are usually associated with menopause, chemotherapy using a specific agent (tamoxifen) can also trigger or intensified already existing hot flashes. However, patients treated with acupuncture experienced fewer hot flashes, as well as an overall sense of well-being and a reduction of other symptoms. The improvement started during the first week of treatment and continued during the following 11 weeks, where patients kept receiving both acupuncture treatments and chemotherapy.

From these results it seems clear that acupuncture for chemotherapy is a worthwhile supplementary treatment for patients to try. While not all hospitals currently arrange these treatments, cancer patients should discuss their interest with their doctors to see what options are available.



acupuncture fibromyalgia

How Acupuncture Fibromyalgia Treatments Help Patients Cope

Acupuncture fibromyalgia treatments have been used and recommended for decades. In fact, well-respected sources of medical information such as the Mayo Clinic and WebMD report that acupuncture can be an effective complementary treatment for those suffering from fibromyalgia. As explained by WebMD, acupuncture works because the needles stimulate certain points that lead to the release of endorphins (the “feel good” hormones). These in turn help fight pain, reduce stress, and produce an overall feeling of well-being.

Acupuncture is believed to help “unblock” the flow of energy, or qi (pronounced “chee”) through the body. This is believed to restore the natural energy of the organism, helping it to heal itself.

What the Experts Say

In an article published in The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, experts looked at the benefits of using acupuncture to treat fibromyalgia. After looking at nine different studies and 395 participants, the Review pointed out that acupuncture provided a significant reduction in pain in patients suffering from fibromyalgia.

In other studies, patients undergoing acupuncture for fibromyalgia reported sleeping better. They also reported an improved sense of well-being and feeling less fatigued. In one of the studies, patients receiving acupuncture experienced less pain just one month after starting treatment – this was faster than those using standard therapy without acupuncture to deal with symptoms of fibromyalgia.

Other studies have shown similar results. For example, a study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings journal looked at the direct benefits of acupuncture on the treatment of fibromyalgia. The study found that patients who received acupuncture experienced improvement not only in their pain levels, but also suffered less fatigue and anxiety. These benefits lasted even after the treatment had ended. In fact, when patients returned seven months after the end of the study, the positive acupuncture benefits were still there.

Something to Keep in Mind

The United Kingdom National Health Service (NHS) Center for Reviews and Dissemination: Effective HealthCare on Acupuncture review pointed out that there’s enough evidence to support the use of acupuncture in the management of patients who are not responding to conventional fibromyalgia treatment or as an addition to other forms of treatment currently in use. The NHS also pointed out that acupuncture could be a good alternative for people who can’t tolerate medication prescribed for their pain and are in need of an option to deal with fibromyalgia symptoms.

While there haven’t been enough large-scale randomized controlled trials to recommend the use of acupuncture as a sole treatment for fibromyalgia, experts agree that there is enough evidence about acupuncture’s effectiveness and safety to encourage patients with fibromyalgia to include acupuncture as part of the health care plan.



acupuncture for seasonal rhinitis

Why Acupuncture for Seasonal Rhinitis Works

If you suffer from seasonal rhinitis, chances are you have at least tried a few over-the-counter solutions – and maybe even some prescriptions – to help alleviate symptoms. The problem with most seasonal rhinitis treatments, however, is that they carry bothersome side effects, including drowsiness, dry mouth and stomach discomfort.

This might explain why acupuncture for seasonal rhinitis has a long-standing reputation as an effective treatment, and why many doctors are recommending it to their patients as a good alternative.  New research shows there might be something to that long-standing reputation.

How and Why Acupuncture Works

While experts are not exactly sure how acupuncture works, there are theories as to why it can help sufferers of seasonal rhinitis. According to the British Acupuncture Council, acupuncture can help release endorphins, which in turn reduce pain and increase the feeling of well-being. Acupuncture also helps to reduce inflammation, which can relieve symptoms of congestion and discomfort experienced by those with seasonal rhinitis.

In addition, acupuncture seems to aid in reducing swelling, as well as in regulating the response of immune cell types. These two actions might account for the long-term positive effect of acupuncture in those with allergies – and might prove a great solution for those who don’t respond well to drug treatment.

What the Experts Say

According to a 2013 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, acupuncture can provide significant relief to those suffering from seasonal allergic rhinitis (SAR). In fact, of the 422 people receiving acupuncture in six different hospital clinics during the study, all reported some kind of improvement — such as needing less antihistamines and feeling better (life improvement benefits) — after eight weeks of acupuncture treatment. This was true regardless of any other forms of treatment the participants were using at the same time.

The study did point out that the benefits seemed to disappear a couple of months after stopping treatment, so it might be necessary to continue with sessions of acupuncture for seasonal rhinitis throughout the entire allergy season in order to ensure continuous relief.

During another study, conducted in 2008, 5,237 patients received either acupuncture treatments over a period of three months or no treatment at all. All the participants were asked to rate their health-related quality of life improvement for up to six months after the treatment was over. In all cases, those receiving acupuncture felt better and saw a reduction in their symptoms.

Even Sham Acupuncture Works

Sham acupuncture refers to inserting needles at random points, rather than the ones connected to the issue being treated. In many studies, sham acupuncture has been shown just as effective as the real thing in the treatment of certain diseases and issues. And this seems to be the case with acupuncture for seasonal rhinitis as well. In a study published in The American Journal of Chinese Medicine, experts treated patients for a total of eight weeks with either sham or real acupuncture.

The results? Both groups experienced similar relief from symptoms, including a reduction in their nasal and non-nasal symptoms. Neither group experienced side effects or significant discomfort from the treatment. This is similar to the findings of other studies, where patients have benefited from the insertion of needles, regardless of where or how this has been conducted.

While more comprehensive studies are needed to truly understand how acupuncture helps relieve allergy symptoms, research seems to indicate treatment does work. Even if you are already taking medication, adding sessions of acupuncture for seasonal rhinitis to the mix could help ease your symptoms faster and more effectively.