To Western medicine, understanding an illness means uncovering a distinct entity that is separate from the patient’s being; to Chinese medicine, understanding means perceiving the relationships among all the patient’s signs and symptoms in the context of his or her life.
—The Web That Has No Weaver: Understanding Chinese Medicine
Chinese medicine is a holistic healthcare system that has been practiced for over 5,000 years. It incorporates a diverse array of treatment modalities that are personalized to each patient, including acupuncture, massage, moxibustion, qigong, diet, and Chinese herbalism.
Results from a number of studies indicate that acupuncture is a powerful tool for pain management, ofering a complementary or non-pharmacological alternative to conventional therapies. What is less-known is the role of Chinese medicine in augmenting recovery, as well as providing symptom relief and palliative care for patients with cancer.
Cancer is not a single disease, but encompasses hundreds of distinct types of malignancies that call for a wide variety of medical treatments. The diversity of modalities available to practitioners of Chinese medicine thus makes them uniquely qualifed to offer holistic, complementary care to the diverse range of treatments required in the treatment of cancer.
For patients with a favorable long-term prognosis, acupuncture may play a manifold role: as an adjunct to anesthesia, in the management of post-operative pain, and in aiding and hastening recovery from the side efects of chemotherapy and minimizing the use of medications and their side-effects. Energetic acupuncture also imbues a sense of well-being and accelerates recovery; enabling practitioners to provide a support system for the patient, both physically and emotionally.
For terminal cancer patients, treatment is palliative. Acupuncture may be administered before, after and between palliative therapies consisting of chemotherapy, radiation, hormonal therapy, or surgery; for control of nausea and symptom relief. These treatments can usually be performed comfortably in the outpatient setting of the clinic.
By understanding the interconnections of relationships between all signs and symptoms at each stage of life, practitioners of Chinese medicine bring a unique and profound ability to heal and support patients facing the most challenging of diseases. Healthcare providers should be knowledgeable about the range of available therapies, when they may be helpful, and when they should be used as part of a multidisciplinary approach to cancer.
The unique role of Chinese medicine in caring for cancer patients is discussed in detail during your consultation with our licensed acupuncturists. Learn more here.