Healing side effect of Chemotherapy and radiation therapy

What are the side effects of Chemotherapy?

Most people worry about whether they’ll have side effects from chemo, and, if so, what they’ll be like. Here are some of the more common side effects caused by chemotherapy:

  • Fatigue

  • Hair loss

  • Easy bruising and bleeding

  • Infection

  • Anemia (low red blood cell counts)

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Appetite changes

  • Constipation

  • Diarrhea

  • Mouth, tongue, and throat problems such as sores and pain with swallowing

  • Nerve and muscle problems such as numbness, tingling, and pain

  • Skin and nail changes such as dry skin and color change

  • Urine and bladder changes and kidney problems

  • Weight changes

  • Chemo brain, which can affect concentration and focus

  • Mood changes

  • Changes in libido and sexual function

  • Fertility problems

How does acupuncture work?

Ancient theories of Chinese medicine suggest that a vital force or energy called Qi flows through the body along channels called meridians. Acupuncture alters this flow to restore or optimise good health.

Medical research shows that acupuncture works by stimulating nerves. This releases substances that can reduce cancer symptoms.

It releases some of our own natural morphine like substances (endorphins) in the spinal cord and brain which relieves pain. Serotonin is also released by acupuncture. Serotonin is a pain reliever which can promote a feeling of wellbeing.

How does it help with cancer patients and post-cancer patients?

One of the main reasons people with cancer have acupuncture is to relieve sickness caused by chemotherapy or other cancer drugs.

Acupuncture is available in most hospitals, hospices and clinics. People are often referred because they have pain or other symptoms such as:

  • tiredness and weakness (fatigue)

  • a dry mouth

  • breathlessness

  • hot flushes due to anti cancer treatments

Some people also say that acupuncture helps them feel relaxed and improves their feeling of wellbeing.

Also acupuncture can help relieve all of the listed side effects of chemotherapy. 

Research on acupuncture in people with breast cancer and other types of cancer

Much research is being done on how acupuncture can help relieve some of the symptoms of cancer and side effects of cancer treatment. Acupuncture has been shown to help relieve fatigue, hot flashes, nausea, vomiting, and pain.

The most thorough study of acupuncture in breast cancer patients was published in Journal of the American Medical Association in 2000. In the study, 104 women undergoing high-dose chemotherapy were given traditional anti-nausea medication. In addition to taking the medication, the women were randomly chosen to receive 5 days of electroacupuncture (acupuncture in which needles are stimulated with a mild electrical current), acupuncture without an electrical current, or no acupuncture. The women who had acupuncture had significantly fewer nausea episodes than those who didn't.

Another study, completed at Duke University and published in 2002, compared the use of acupuncture to the use of Zofran (chemical name: ondansetron), an anti-nausea medication, before breast cancer surgery to reduce the nausea that can occur after surgery. The acupuncture treatment was found to work better than Zofran at controlling nausea.

In a French study published in 2003, acupuncture was examined in the treatment of cancer-related pain. Patients treated with acupuncture had a 36% reduction in pain after 2 months of acupuncture treatments, compared with a 2% reduction in pain in the patients receiving a placebo type of acupuncture.

In one very preliminary 2004 study at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, acupuncture was shown to reduce post-chemotherapy fatigue by 31% in people with various types of cancer. In 2005, another preliminary study of breast cancer patients in Sweden showed that acupuncture reduced hot flashes by half.

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T: (213) 944 - 0214

E: haeseongcenter@gmail.com

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