Acupuncture After Breast Cancer Treatment

According to the latest study conducted by the researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, acupuncture is considered a feasible option for women complaining of hot flashes following treatment with estrogen-targeting therapies for breast cancer.

acupuncture-breast-cancer-hot-flashes

According to researchers, acupuncture can be effective on women who had breast cancer treatments and they are experiencing hot flashes.

In the survivors of breast cancer, hot flashes are severe and seen frequently, but the measures approved by FDA  for the treatment of these episodes such as hormone replacement therapy are not suitable for the survivors of breast cancer due to the presence of estrogen. The study results are published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Jun J. Mao, MD, MSCE, an associate professor in the department of community health and family medicine, said that the majority of people relate hot flashes with menopause, this episode may also appear in women surviving breast cancer who are having low levels of estrogen and  usually undergo premature menopause  after being treated with surgery or chemotherapy.

The results of the latest research clearly highlight the promising role acupuncture in the control of hot flashes in breast cancer survivors, which was also proven effective for joint pain in the same population in previous studies.

In general, hot flushes are the transient episodes of flushing, racing heartbeat, sweating and heat sensations. The actual cause of hot flashes is not known though they are closely linked with decreased levels of estrogen.

Study details

The team of researchers have enrolled a total of 120 breast cancer survivors experiencing multiple episodes of hot flashes in a day. The participants were then distributed randomly into four different interventions to check the efficacy of acupuncture technique known as electro acupuncture (embedded needles delivering weak electrical currents) compared to an epilepsy drug gabapentin in reducing the incidence of hot flushes. The participants were given the following treatments for the period of 8 weeks:

  • gabapentin (900 mg) daily
  • gabapentin placebo daily,
  • electro acupuncture twice a week for  two weeks then once weekly
  • “sham” electro acupuncture (involves  no needle penetration or electric current)

After a period of 8 weeks, it was found that participants in the electroacupuncture group have maximum improvement in the standard measurement severity and frequency of hot flashes also known as the Hot flash composite score(HFCS).

Along with the reduction in frequency and severity of hot flushes, both the groups of acupuncture also showed lesser side effects than the pill groups.

The Penn researchers have followed these subjects for another sixteen weeks after the end of the treatment and have observed that both the acupuncture groups enjoyed a lasting and better control over hot flashes, and the pill-placebo groups showed only minimal improvement in the symptoms, Whereas worsening in the hot flashes was observed in the group taking gabapentin.

Evidence from the previous studies suggests that acupuncture works by directly enhancing the levels of endorphins and their associated pain killing and mood elevating molecules.

This article briefly describes the role of acupuncture in controlling hot flashes. You can get details by following the given link.
Source: Acupuncture reduces hot flashes in breast cancer survivors, September 3, 2015

Dr. Adem GunesDr. Adem Gunes has built the world’s largest database of scientifically tested natural substances with proven effects in cancer treatments. In 2009, he was appointed as the Chief Physician of ProLife Clinic in Innsbruck, Austria, and played a key role in the establishment of the research laboratory. He is also the co-founder of the first Austrian hyperthermia center. Now, Dr. Adem works closely with cancer patients from around the world (including Germany, Thailand, Dubai) to recommend them a complementary cancer clinic or to create a personalized care plan for patients to follow at home.

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Tips to Control Chemotherapy Nausea and Vomiting (CINV)

Tips To Control Chemotherapy Nausea & VomitingBy Margot Malin, Founder and CEO of Lots To Live For, Inc.

One of the most dreaded and anxiety producing side effects of cancer treatment is chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting (CINV). In this blog post we offer a variety of tips to help you reduce chemotherapy nausea. Controlling nausea can significantly improve your comfort and help ensure completion of your chemo treatments as scheduled.

Medications
Speak with your oncology doctors and nurses to find the antinausea medicine that works best for you. Anti-nausea medications, also called antiemetics, are sometimes so effective that experts have shifted their focus from treating nausea to aggressive prevention. Unfortunately however, the majority of people on a chemo regimen still face some risk of becoming nauseous. Some patients have to try a few antiemetics before finding the one that works best.

Food
Try eating bland foods. For example – toast, oatmeal, bananas, broiled or baked chicken with no skin, or similar items. Eat small quantities more frequently. Delay eating for at least one hour after treatment. Try not to start treatment with an empty stomach. Avoid greasy, fried, salty, sweet, or spicy foods. A recent study funded by the National Cancer Institute showed that ginger, even in small amounts, can help reduce nausea.

Hydration
It is important to stay hydrated. Try taking small sips of water during the day instead of gulping or consuming large quantities at a single sitting. Broth is another liquid that may be easy to sip. Drinking natural root beer and/or ginger ale may be effective ways to reduce CINV. Some herbal teas may ease digestive discomfort while stimulating a weak appetite. Suck on hard candy such as Queasy Drops, popsicles or ice during treatment.

Smell
Avoid foods with strong odors. Avoid strong smells such as flowers, perfumes and some cleaning products. Some personal care product scents may irritate your senses. Some essential oils can be helpful, but they must be administered carefully.

Body Position
Do not lie down flat for at least 2 hours after eating. Rest by sitting up or reclining with your head elevated.

Products to Help
biobands_ pic_ 1Biobands – This simple and inexpensive wristband utilizes acupressure, a natural pressure therapy applied to a specific acupuncture point that controls nausea and vomiting. Wearing Biobands can help control nausea during treatment and throughout the day.

Queasy Pops and Drops are the natural way to ease a queasy stomach. They are effective due to their special formulation of essential oils, aromatherapy and their unique delivery method. They are also a great way to help with dry mouth symptoms.

Integrative Approaches and Alternative Treatments

Deep Breathing Exercises and Guided Meditation can help you relax before and during treatment. They can help put your mind in a calmer, positive and more proactive place.  An example of a CD to help teach you breathing techniques is Breathe With Purpose. An example of guided imagery is the Whip Cancer app. Calm.com offers a guided meditation app. Saagara offers two pranayama apps, with guided breathing.

Acupuncture for Cancer Treatment NauseaAcupuncture lowers nausea and/or vomiting in some people. In addition to reducing nausea, some patients find that it also helps to minimize hives and joint swelling, which can be other side effects of treatment.

Exercise – Get moving as soon as you can! Find an exercise that you enjoy and do it!  Even if the movement is minimal or slow at first, or on the days of treatment, don’t be discouraged. Exercise should help you through chemo fatigue as well.  However, exercising too soon after eating may slow down digestion and increase discomfort. A good resource is the new book Exercises for Cancer Survivors by Carol Michaels.

Hypnosis has been suggested by some professionals as another helpful complementary therapy.

Essential Oils and Aromatherapy
There are a number of essential oils and herbs that can be helpful. Discuss the use of these treatments with your oncology team before using them, because they have the potential to block the effects of your medication. Natural Remedies of CINV by Pamela Taylor is a helpful book that can help to familiarize you with herbs, essential oils, and aromatherapy.

Medical Marijuana
It’s long been general knowledge that marijuana can soothe nausea. This is now an option in some states where medical marijuana is legal. A synthetic version of the active ingredient, THC, is in the prescription drug Marinol (dronabinol).

Important NO-NO’s
No caffeine. No smoking. No alcohol.

The more comfortable you are during treatment, the better your mental and emotional state.  A more comfortable state of mind will contribute to optimizing your outcome. Don’t hesitate to consult with your oncology team for additional ideas. We hope our suggestions will improve your comfort by reducing your nausea during your cancer journey.

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About Margot Malin: Intellectually cMargot Malinurious and fiercely independent, Margot Malin has a passion for knowledge.  After receiving her MBA from The Wharton School, she launched her career by analyzing and evaluating businesses.  In 2002 she embarked on the “creative reinvention” phase of her career with the intention of “giving back”. Margot founded Lots To Live For, Inc., an internet retailer that sells carefully selected products to reduce and relieve the uncomfortable and unpleasant side effects caused by chemotherapy and radiation.

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