Acupuncture is a procedure that applies needles to specific areas of the body that can cause a change in the physical functions of the body. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and acupuncture have been practiced for over 3,000 years and are still used to treat a long list of ailments, so it is tried and true.

Unless you follow eastern medical practices or stay current with western research, you may not realize that acupuncture is considered a safe and effective adjunctive care for people who experience certain types of cancer and cancer treatments that cause pain.

More and more research is being done on how acupuncture and TCM can help manage chronic health conditions and symptoms. Recently, acupuncture has been touted as one of the best pain management techniques for those being treated with chemotherapy, immunotherapy, surgery, and radiation.

According to the 3,000-year-old practice, acupuncture influences life force energy – also known as qi (pronounced chee) – that flows through the body along the meridians. If there is a blockage or disruption in your energy flow, acupuncture can restore the flow and bring the body back into balance. It’s based on modifying the nervous system through stimulation of specific points along the meridians, which release neurotransmitters, like endorphins and serotonin, which enhance feelings of well-being.

How Does That Relate to Cancer Treatments?

A study conducted by UCLA Health with 302 people with breast cancer discovered that acupuncture was helpful in managing cancer symptoms over a 6-week period. Aside from mental fatigue, physical pain, anxiety, and depression, acupuncture helped with the following:

  • Nausea and vomiting as pertains to chemotherapy
  • Dry mouth condition related to radiation therapy
  • Hot flashes experienced during hormone treatments
  • Joint pain associated with aromatase inhibitor therapy
  • Physical pain, in general
  • Peripheral neuropathy from chemotherapy

Other cancer treatment related side effects that have also been helped through acupuncture treatments are:

  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia and sleep disorders
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Low white blood cell count

A Few Cautions

When you first meet for your acupuncture consultation, be sure to tell your practitioner everything pertaining to your medical history. In fact, here are a few conditions by which acupuncture should be avoided, which is why your practitioner needs to be apprised before recommending specific treatments.

  •  Bleeding: If you have platelet counts or take blood thinners, consult with your regular doctor before receiving acupuncture.
  • Infection: If you have a low white blood cell count, you may have a higher risk of infection.
  • Lymphedema: If lymph nodes have been removed, do not have needles inserted in that area, as it may increase the likelihood of infection.

At 2Dots Integrative Medicine, our mission is to give our patients all the support they need to tap into their natural healing systems. We believe that our bodies have an innate ability to heal themselves, as we are resilient and whole. Please join us in these less invasive, more effective techniques that can reduce or eliminate chronic pain and pain associated with cancer treatments. Click here to set up a consultation.


with Dr. Lin Dan Zhu