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Healthy Cells is a local health magazine with most of the articles written by local professionals. People love to read about healthcare from their local health professionals. Each month includes a wide variety of articles on various topics.
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Using Acupuncture to Reduce the Side-Effects of Chemotherapy and Radiation

For individuals going through chemotherapy and radiation, acupuncture is a safe and effective adjunct therapy, which eases many unpleasant side effects associated with cancer care. Acupuncture involves the insertion of extremely fine, sterile, stainless-steel needles into acupuncture points around the body. There are over 300 acupuncture points on the human body and a skilled practitioner selects points according to the constitution and pathology of each patient. Each treatment is precisely customized to the needs of the patient on that particular day, which makes it extremely useful in managing the ups and downs of cancer care. Once the needles are in place, patients rest for a period of 20 to 30 minutes. During this time, patients report feeling relaxed, peaceful, and experiencing an increased sense of wellbeing. Their bodies enter into a state that is optimal for restoration and healing. For patients undergoing cancer treatments, acupuncture is recommended twice weekly or weekly, usually one day prior to chemotherapy and then again a day or two post-infusion. For patients undergoing radiation, treatment is recommended one day post-radiation.

    Research suggests that acupuncture can be helpful in managing the following symptoms:
Cancer-related pain — Up to 70 percent of cancer patients suffer from pain. Pain may be pre-existing, related to the disease progression, or a side effect of the treatment itself. Unmanaged pain may lead to decreased psychological wellbeing. Opioids, commonly used for pain relief may cause other undesirable side effects. Acupuncture is a safe and effective non-pharmological treatment for this type of pain, which can greatly improve quality of life.
    Chemotherapy-related neutropenia and leukopenia — Many cancer patients suffer from a diminished white and red blood cell count, which puts these patients at an increased risk for infection and bleeding. Acupuncture increases blood cell production and enhance the production of Natural Killer Cells, lymphocytes, and platelets, which leads to increased immune response and decreased risk of infection and bleeding.
    Fatigue — Acupuncture after chemotherapy helps reduce the feelings of exhaustion and fatigue that often follow treatments. Many patients report feeling more energized almost immediately following an acupuncture treatment.
    Nausea/vomiting — Acupuncture reduces the frequency and intensity of nausea and vomiting for patients receiving chemotherapy.
    Diarrhea — Acupuncture and moxibustion (an herb used to warm acu-points), help to reduce the severity of post chemotherapy diarrhea.
    Hot flashes — Many woman undergoing treatment for breast cancers experience hot flashes as a side effect of their aromatase inhibitors. Acupuncture helps to naturally reduce the severity and frequency of these hot flashes.
    Peripheral neuropathy — Many patients undergoing chemotherapy experience the unpleasant side effect of neuropathy in their hands and feet. Acupuncture can help keep the neuropathy from getting worse and in many cases provide some relief.
    Radiation-induced xerostomia (dry mouth) — Recent studies indicate that acupuncture can effectively treat dry-mouth which results from radiation treatment.
    Depression/anxiety — Many individuals undergoing cancer care suffer from depression or anxiety as a result of the enormous stress they are under. Acupuncture can improve their quality of life by helping them to relax, calm themselves, and by giving themselves a safe space to heal and feel rested.

    Michelle Pawley is a board-certified acupuncturist with a graduate degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine from The Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine College, Berkeley. Her office is located at 1617 E. Oakland Avenue, Bloomington. For more information or to set up a consultation, call her at 309-445-1502, or visit her online at bnacupuncture.com.   



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