Applies needles, heat, pressure, and other treatments to certain places on the skin, called (or acupoints), to cause a change in the physical functions of the body. The use of acupuncture is part of (TCM). TCM is a medical system that has been used for thousands of years to prevent, , and treat disease.
Acupuncture is based on the belief that (vital energy) flows through the body along a network of paths, called . Qi is said to affect a person’s, emotional, mental, and physical . According to TCM, qi has two forces. Yin and yang are opposite forces that work together to form a whole. The forces of yin and yang depend on each other and are made from each other in an unending cycle, such as hot and cold, day and night, and health and disease. Nothing is ever all yin or all yang, both exist in all things, including people. Many of the major of the body are believed to be yin-yang pairs that must be in balance to be healthy. When a person's yin and yang are not in balance, qi can become blocked. Blocked qi causes pain, illness, or other health problems. TCM uses acupuncture, , , , physical exercise, and massage to restore health by unblocking qi and correcting the balance of yin and yang within the person.
Most in the United States practice acupuncture according to the traditions of Chinese . However, there are other types of acupuncture, including some used for medical treatment, that have different theories about meridians and acupoint locations.
- What is the history of the discovery and use of acupuncture as a complementary treatment for cancer?
The oldest known medical book in China (second century BC) describes the use of needles to treat medical problems. The use of the treatment spread to other Asian countries and to other regions of the world, including to Europe by the 1700s. In the United States, acupuncture has been used for about 200 years.
Research on acupuncture began in the United States in 1976. Twenty years later, the (FDA) approved the as a . Many illnesses are treated with acupuncture. In treatment, its main use is to control, including the following:
For cancer patients, acupuncture is used as, which is treatment given in addition to .
- What is the theory behind the claim that acupuncture is useful in treating cancer?
According to TCM, qi can be unblocked by using acupuncture at certain places on the skin, called acupoints. Acupoints are places where the meridians come to the surface of the body. There are more than 360 acupoints on the human body, with specific acupoints for each condition being treated.
- What physical effects may acupuncture have when used in cancer patients?
Acupuncture may cause physical responses in, the, and parts of the brain. These responses can cause the body to release, , and brain chemicals that control a number of body functions. It is proposed that, in this way, acupuncture affects and body temperature, boosts activity, and causes the body's natural painkillers, such as, to be released.
- How is acupuncture administered?
The acupuncture method most well-known uses needles. Disposable, stainless steel needles that are slightly thicker than a human hair are inserted into the skin at acupoints. The acupuncture determines the correct acupoints to use for the problem being treated. The inserted needles may be twirled, moved up and down at different speeds and depths, heated, or charged with a weak electric current. There are other acupuncture methods that do not use needles.
Some acupuncture techniques include the following:
- acupuncture: The placing of acupuncture needles at acupoints on the outer ear that match up with certain parts of the body.
- : A procedure in which pulses of weak electrical current are sent through acupuncture needles into acupoints in the skin.
- : The placing of acupuncture needles in a place on the skin that is away from the painful part of the body. Trigger points have to do with referred pain, pain that is not felt at the site of injury, but is sent along and felt elsewhere in the body.
- : The use of a weak instead of an acupuncture needle to stimulate an acupoint.
- : The use of a and needle to , , herbal, or other into the body at an acupoint.
- : The use of a microwave attached to an acupuncture needle to deliver microwave to an acupoint.
- : A type of in which the fingers are used to press on an acupoint. In cancer patients, acupressure has been used to control symptoms such as pain or nausea and vomiting.
- : A type of heat therapy in which an herb is burned above the body to warm a meridian at an acupoint and increase the flow of and qi. The herb may be placed directly on the skin, held close to the skin for several minutes, or placed on the tip of an acupuncture needle. Heat lamps may also be used to warm the acupoints.
- : A procedure in which a rounded glass cup is warmed and placed upside down over an area of the body, making a vacuum that holds the cup to the skin. Cupping is used to increase the flow of blood and qi. It is believed to open up the skin’s pores and allow to leave the body.
- What do patients feel during acupuncture?
Patients may have a feeling during acupuncture, known as, making them feel heaviness, numbness, or tingling.
- Have any preclinical (laboratory or animal) studies been conducted using acupuncture?
studies on the use of acupuncture to treat cancer and of cancer began only recently. and suggest that acupuncture can reduce vomiting caused by chemotherapy and may help the immune system be stronger during chemotherapy. Animal studies support the use of electroacupuncture to relieve cancer pain. Laboratory and animal studies have also looked at how acupuncture works for cancer treatment, such as the role of acupuncture in stimulating nerve cells that trigger the release of hormones into the blood and, including increasing and enhancing and activity.
- Have any clinical trials (research studies with people) of acupuncture been conducted?
In 1997, the (NIH) began evaluating the safety and effectiveness of acupuncture as a complementary therapy for relieving cancer-related symptoms and side effects of cancer treatments.
Studies of acupuncture in cancer care also have been done in China and other countries, including England, France, Australia, Japan, and Sweden.