Acupuncture offers a relatively painless way to reduce the side effects of traditional cancer treatment and maximize the body’s response to treatment. It also can relieve pain and symptoms associated with the disease. At Indiana University Health Goshen Center for Cancer Care, our licensed acupuncturist develops specific acupuncture treatment plans after completing an assessment of a cancer patient's body function and current symptoms.
How acupuncture works
Chinese medicine is a complex and sophisticated approach to healing. Developed over thousands of years, it is based on ancient Chinese medical texts and clinical observation. It also considers contemporary research.
Principles of Chinese medicine are based on the fundamental concept that the physical, spiritual and emotional body are connected in their functions. A network of energy called Qi (pronounced “chee”) flows through all aspects of the body. Chinese medicine is holistic in its nature and focuses on the individual, instead of the disease.
Qi flows through the body in channels called meridians. The energy or Qi in each of these channels is associated with specific tissues, areas and functions of the body, as well as with certain emotions, colors, tastes and smells.
Acupuncture involves the insertion of very fine, stainless steel needles on the surface of the skin to various depths at strategic points along the Qi meridians. Stimulation of these points with the needles can unblock energy that is stuck. It also can bring energy into areas that are lacking energy, thus assisting the body to move back into balance. In addition to needles, various other methods used to stimulate acupuncture points include electricity, heat, massage and suction created by special cups.
The National Institutes of Health has done significant research on the efficacy of acupuncture in the treatment of cancer. Research indicates acupuncture can reduce pain and help with chemotherapy-induced nausea. Findings from basic research have implied several theories as to why acupuncture works. These include the release of pain-relieving chemicals in the central nervous system and changes in neuroendocrine function. Changes in blood flow, blood pressure, brain chemistry and immune system have also been observed.