Acupuncture and breast cancer

Acupuncture and breast cancer

In acupuncture, sterile, hair-thin needles are inserted into specific points on the skin, called "acupuncture points, " and then gently moved. Researchers propose that acupuncture stimulates the nervous system to release natural painkillers and immune system cells. They then travel to weakened areas of the body and relieve symptoms.

Studies show that acupuncture may:

  • help relieve fatigue
  • control hot flashes
  • help decrease nausea
  • reduce vomiting
  • lessen pain
  • Along with practices such as tai chi, acupuncture is a central part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), an ancient system of medicine. In Chinese medicine, it is believed that vital energy, called "qi" (pronounced "chee"), flows through 20 pathways, or "meridians, " which are connected by acupuncture points. According to TCM, if qi is blocked, the body can't function at its peak. The goal of acupuncture is to open certain points on these pathways and release blocked qi.

    What to expect in a typical acupuncture session

    At an acupuncture session, you can expect the following:

  • The practitioner will ask you questions about your health and lifestyle. At your first acupuncture session, you'll answer questions to let the practitioner know about any medications you're taking, including herbal supplements, and any symptoms you have. Your treatment will be tailored to your individual lifestyle and health issues.
  • The practitioner will insert needles into acupuncture points on your skin. Your practitioner will insert needles into the most appropriate acupuncture points for your condition. Acupuncturists use very thin, solid, stainless steel needles, and most people feel slight or no pain as needles are inserted. Needles are only inserted into the top layer of skin and are never inserted directly into any organs. Once the needles are in place, there is no pain.
  • The effects of acupuncture can feel different from person to person — you may feel relaxed, or you may feel energized. Directly after the first treatment, some people feel slightly disoriented, but this is usually brief. After treatment, avoid activities that require you to be extra alert, such as driving, mowing the lawn, or cooking.

    In the days following treatment, symptoms may worsen for a day or two, or you may notice changes in your appetite, sleep, or mood before you begin to feel improvement. If this happens, it lasts only a short while and passes with rest.

    Acupuncture practitioner requirements

    It's becoming more common for medical doctors, such as anesthesiologists and neurologists, to be trained in acupuncture. There are also numerous accredited training programs in the United States for certified acupuncturists who aren't medical doctors.

  • Training requirements for medical doctors: In most states, medical doctors must have 200 to 300 hours of acupuncture training in a program approved by the American Board of Medical Acupuncture (ABMA). For a list of board-certified physicians who practice acupuncture in the United States, visit the ABMA website.
  • Training requirements for certified acupuncturists who are not medical doctors:
  • Training: In the United States, an acupuncturist should complete between 2, 000 and 3, 000 hours of training in a master's degree program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.
  • Certification: For U.S. certification, an acupuncturist must pass board exams given by the National Certification Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Check the NCCAOM website's searchable practitioner directory to find a certified acupuncturist in your area.
  • Source:
    Does Acupuncture Benefit Breast Cancer Patients Who Have
    Does Acupuncture Benefit Breast Cancer Patients Who Have ...
    Acupuncture and cancer
    Acupuncture and cancer
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