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Acupuncture for breast cancer treatment related symptoms

As October moves us in to breast cancer awareness month, there is a focus to provide education about the disease and show support for those effected. Acupuncture can offer relief for physical and emotional challenges while undergoing or recovering from treatment. Through modulating the nervous system and releasing natural pain killers, acupuncture can improve the well being of those receiving treatment as well as offer support for caregivers.


Four Ways Acupuncture Can Help

Joint pain and stiffness Estrogen blocking drugs are commonly used to prevent recurrence of breast cancer that is fueled by the hormone. Joint pain and stiffness is a frequent side effect that does not often respond to pain relief medication. Studies have shown that after 6 weeks of acupuncture treatments, pain relief lasted for up to four months. Acupuncture has been shown to relieve pain and improve joint function through the release of endorphins and natural opioids. Treatments reduce inflammation and increase micro-circulation to an injured area, offering a natural alternative for pain relief.


Regaining energy during treatments or recovery can be challenging and sometimes rest is not an adequate remedy. Acupuncture and moxibustion can provide a great boost. Using "moxa"

is a traditional technique that complements acupuncture. Certain acupoints are warmed by indirectly burning dried mugwort which can support energy, boost immunity, and improve overall health.


Depression and anxiety Acupuncture can provide deep relaxation. Effects of acupuncture are sometimes explained through changes in the nervous system and brain biochemistry. Treatments assist in regulating brain chemicals and hormones that help promote emotional well-being. Acupuncture has shown to increase endorphin levels, a "feel good" chemical. Aside from decreasing the sensation of pain, endorphins increase feelings of euphoria and decrease responses to stress.


Nausea and vomiting Acupuncture offers great relief for nausea and vomiting. The National Institutes of Health Consensus Statement indicates that acupuncture is effective for postoperative and chemotherapy related nausea and vomiting. Try acupressure on the this point for nausea from any reason (motion sickness, pregnancy, medication side effects).

Here's how to find Pericardium 6 (or PC 6): With your palm facing up, place the first three fingers of your other hand across your wrist. Place your thumb just below your three fingers, pressing in between 2 large tendons. Apply gentle pressure to this spot.


Traditional Chinese Medicine

"TCM works synergistically with Western medicine methods to alleviate symptoms irrespective of the patient's physical constitution, disease stage, pathology, and possible complications."

Giovani Maciocia, Management of Cancer with Chinese Medicine

Treatments using Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) are not a one size fits all approach, rather they are based on an individual's specific experience. With all physical or emotional health issues, TCM looks at the individual as a whole and identifies the underling pattern leading to a condition. Health concerns are seen as disharmonies in the body which are treated by restoring balance. Acupuncture stimulates certain points to promote self-healing, encouraging the body to overcome pain or illness.

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