Acupuncture and You: Supporting Cancer Patients: How Acupuncture Can Help, by Heather Shoup, M.S., L.Ac.

Heather Shoup, bOctober is breast cancer awareness month.  I am glad we live in a society that puts effort into educating the public about a disease that has affected so many peoples lives. Oncology has come so far to treat and support the patient and their families.  Strides are being made everyday in western medicine to understand not just breast cancer, but all forms of cancer and how to better treat the patients.  These strides are huge but not yet perfect.  Cancer treatment has many side effects on the patient. Western medicine is now, often taking a complimentary approach to treatment recognizing the room for alternative modalities in the world of Oncology.  Acupuncture is one modality that is being utilized in the treatment plan of some oncology patients.  Large hospitals like Sloan-Kettering and Cancer Centers of America have acupuncturists on staff that are incorporated into the patients treatment plan.


So where does acupuncture fit in? Firstly acupuncture is commonly used to manage the bodies stress response, or relax people.  This especially helpful during the very stressful time of diagnosis and treatment, not just for the patient but for their families as well.  By helping the patient feel calmer and improving sleep we are allowing the body to start the healing process.   Secondly we are helping to support the bodies immune system. The body is fighting a foreign body so the immune system is being over worked.  Once treatment begins we are suppressing the immune system. Acupuncture encourages the body to help build up the fighter cells to help the immune system along.  Thirdly combating fatigue. Fatigue is a common side effect of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.  These treatments are very taxing on the body leaving patients to feel lethargic.  Acupuncture can help improve the patients energy. Fourthly the treatment of nausea. Nausea is a common side effect of chemotherapy.  Western medicine has many medications that can help treat this, but not all are successful with every patient.  Acupuncture can help ease the nausea when placed appropriately in the treatment plan.  Fifthly the management of pain.  Pain can be a side effect of radiation and surgery.  Acupuncture is well known for its pain reduction.  Oncology care is no different.

The diagnosis of cancer is never an easy one.  Patients are incredibly brave and patient. I continue to hold hope that one day we will find a cure. In the meantime as an acupuncturist I am glad I can offer even just a little bit of relief during such a difficult time.


*Note: The publishers do not believe that Chemotherapy is the only answer for fighting cancer and it may, in face, cause more harm than good. To learn why follow this link*


Missed last month’s column? Read it now:

September Acupuncture and You: Falling into seasonal allergies, By Heather Shoup, M.S., L.Ac.
August Acupuncture and You: Ouch Those Aching Knees! by Heather Shoup, M.S., L.Ac.
July Acupuncture and You: Summer fun doesn’t have to be a Pain in the Back, By Heather Shoup, M.S., L.Ac.
June Acupuncture and You: How Acupuncture can Improve Your Health, by Heather Shoup, M.S., L.Ac.