What are acupuncture treatments like, and what do they involve?

At each session, your acupuncturist spends time collecting information on your physical, mental and emotional health before doing the acupuncture treatment. Acupuncture treatments in general are very relaxing and the time you spend resting on the table with the needles can be very healing. Treatments usually last 1 hour and at each visit you’ll have an opportunity to discuss any symptoms you’re having, concerns and questions about diet or nutrition and ideas for healthy life-style modifications you may want to make.

How many visits will I need?

Your acupuncturist will familiarize her/himself with your chemotherapy or radiation schedule in order to help you get the most benefit from your acupuncture treatments. The frequency with which you will need to come and duration of a course of treatment depends on the severity of your symptoms and your particular treatment goals. For instance, many patients come for acupuncture soon after their chemotherapy treatments to prevent symptoms like nausea and vomiting. Others come before treatments to help reduce stress and anxiety. If their chemo treatments are several weeks apart, many patients come for acupuncture on those “off” weeks to help support their immune system, boost their energy and to relax and rejuvenate before their next round. Based on your individual needs, your acupuncturist will determine the most effective treatment plan for you on your first visit.

Cancer and Chinese Medicine

Incidences of cancer are well documented throughout the history of Chinese medicine. Drawings and descriptions of tumors have appeared in some of the most ancient Chinese medical writings. Yet “cancer” itself is not a term used in Chinese Medicine. This is because Chinese medicine regards cancer as a composite of several different conditions, rather than a single disease. Because of its holistic nature, Chinese medicine looks at all of the factors that may have contributed to the development of the disease in the person diagnosed with cancer. Family history, life-long exposure to toxins, the overall strength of the immune system, digestive system and emotional well-being inform acupuncturists about the various factors that contributed to the formation of the disease in the first place and how to help patients overcome them.

Chinese medicine alone should not be considered a miracle treatment for cancer. Many patients seek alternative methods of treatment in the hope of finding a cure. Instead, Chinese medicine helps to support the body’s natural immunity, its innate strength and homeostatic capabilities, while regenerating and repairing the damage done by the cancer itself. It is also an extremely valuable adjunct therapy to chemotherapy and radiation. Many patients seek out acupuncture and Chinese medicine because they are familiar with its ability to help post-chemotherapy nausea and vomiting, fatigue, constipation and many other side-effects of chemotherapy and radiation.

Currently, acupuncture is being recommended as a complimentary therapy in several cancer hospitals and centers around the U.S. If you are considering using acupuncture during chemotherapy or radiation, the information on this site will help you understand how acupuncture works in conjunction with conventional cancer treatment and how best to use acupuncture to optimize your health both during and after chemotherapy.