The goal of chemotherapy is to destroy fast-growing cancer cells. But in doing so, it can also damage normal, healthy cells that are fast growing, too. Damage to these healthy cells causes side effects. Nausea and vomiting – never enjoyable – can be among the most distressing side effects of chemotherapy. The good thing is that they are common side effects that can be treated with conventional medications as well as with complementary therapies.
Of the complementary therapies for nausea, acupuncture has the best evidence. Many studies have supported the use of acupuncture for nausea from chemotherapy, as well as post-operative nausea.
Typical treatment involves 10-12 needles inserted just under the skin on the legs and arms, including a point on the inner wrist that is especially useful for relieving nausea. The needles are left in for 20-30 minutes.
Most patients experience deep relaxation during the treatment and have a sense of well being after acupuncture. Acupuncture also can help with other side effects related to cancer including fatigue, stress, pain and dry mouth.
Other complementary therapies aren’t as well studied, but are safe. They include:
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Approximately one-third of cancer patients seek out complementary and alternative medicine. There are no proven cures for cancer in alternative medicine, but there are therapies that are proven to help with symptoms and side effects. I encourage people to use the best of both worlds — evidence-based treatments within conventional medicine as well as complementary medicine.
The complementary medicine treatments with the best evidence and fewest risks are the mind-body therapies and acupuncture. However, herbal medicines and vitamins should not be used without a physician’s guidance since they can interact with chemotherapy.
There are many types of mind-body therapies including yoga, tai chi, meditation, breathing exercises, guided imagery, relaxation training, prayer, music therapy and hypnosis. Many of these have been shown in clinical studies to help reduce stress and fatigue, improve the immune system, and help with sleep and mood. We offer many classes such as yoga, mindfulness meditation, guided imagery and diaphragmatic breathing to help people explore these techniques. Read here for a list of fall classes that are offered through Affinity Health System. Continue Reading »
Acupuncture originated in China thousands of years ago and is now used throughout the world. According to Chinese medical theory, acupuncture works by promoting the flow of chi, or energy, throughout the body and by balancing yin and yang.
From a Western medical perspective, acupuncture has known effects at many levels – from the local effects of increasing blood flow and relaxing muscles, to complicated changes in neurotransmitters and neural pathways in the spinal cord and brain.
Numerous clinical studies have shown benefits with the most evidence for migraine prevention, and chronic neck and back pain. It works well for many types of pain including myofascial and neuropathic pain, as well as headaches, fatigue, nausea, anxiety, menstrual cramps and many other problems. Continue Reading »
Many people are looking for additional ways to treat chronic medical problems. Integrative medicine offers a range of treatment options, including nutrition supplements, mind-body therapies, massage and acupuncture. Often the integrative approach helps patients manage their medical problems with fewer side effects than conventional medications and interventions. Medical problems that respond well to this approach include:
- chronic pain
- high cholesterol
- irritable bowel syndrome
- heart disease
- anxiety and depression
- rheumatic diseases
When I meet with a patient, we discuss all their medical problems and past treatments, as well as lifestyle, nutrition, stress management, and any other concerns. Continue Reading »