The conventional medical community have accepted acupuncture and Chinese herbs, the ancient Chinese system of medicine known as TCM, as a credible treatment for alleviating some of the symptoms of cancer and the side effects of chemo and radiotherapy; however, little is known about its true potential to treat the disease itself. Acupuncture is one of the most widely used alternative therapies for treating a large number of medical complaints, and there have been many clinical trials performed to determine its potential health benefits.
Many acupuncturists and Doctors of Oriental Medicine claim that it cannot only cure cancer, but regular sessions will actually retrain the body’s immune system to destroy any new cancer cells and prevent the disease from ever returning. Is it possible that the cure for cancer lies within a 4000 year old Chinese therapy? Many practitioners and patients alike believe that acupuncture is an effective weapon in the fight against cancer.
What Is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is an integral part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It is based on the assumption that every person has vital energy, or qi, flowing throughout his or her system along energy lines, known as meridians, which map the entire body. If one of these energy pathways becomes blocked it manifests as a physical illness, disease, or psychological disorder. Acupuncturists insert sterile needles just under the skin at different acupoints on the body to stimulate the underlying nerves and release trapped energy. There are many different forms of acupuncture such as electroacupuncture which sends a small electrical current through the needle into the skin, and others use lasers, heat, and even microwaves to stimulate acupoints.
Acupuncture and Cancer
Cancer occurs when a mutated cell begins multiplying out of control and eventually becomes unmanageable by the body’s own natural defences. In a healthy individual, the body can usually seek out and destroy these mutated cells before they become a problem, but external factors such as poor diet, pollution, exposure to carcinogens, and substances such as alcohol and tobacco can weaken the immune system and compromise the body’s natural ability function correctly. Acupuncture kick starts the body’s immune system and reactivates its ‘seek and destroy’ ability to wipe out any cancer cells before they begin to spread. Acupuncture treatments increase the number of white blood cells, which fight inflammation and disease, as well promoting a feeling of relaxation and wellbeing — all of which are essential components in the fight against diseases.
Supporting Evidence of the Efficacy of Acupuncture
Unfortunately, there is no hard scientific evidence that acupuncture has the ability to destroy existing cancer cells or prevent the recurrence of cancer; however anecdotal evidence and clinical experience with patients does indicate its efficacy. From a holistic perspective, releasing trapped energy from the body promotes a calm and relaxed state of mind, which enables patients to think positively and clearly when dealing with their illness. Every allopathic doctor agrees that state of mind plays a huge role when it comes to physically healing the body, and those suffering from stress and depression are much more prone to sickness and disease.
General Uses for Acupuncture
Acupuncture is routinely used as a relaxation therapy or as a method to cope with addictions such as alcohol and nicotine, and in the UK it is even available free of charge to eligible patients through The National Health Service. It can also be used to treat those who experience anxiety and panic attacks, and for people who are afflicted with an obsessive compulsive disorder. Many patients claim that it can help with pain management, and western doctors support this claim as the stimulation of nerve endings causes the body to release endorphins, nature’s own pain killers.
Acupuncture Combined with Herbs and TCM
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) uses over 3,000 different herbs to cure sickness and disease, and a doctor will usually use a combination of acupuncture, massage therapy, breathing exercises, and herbal remedies when treating a cancer patient. Chinese herbal formulas have been put through hundreds of different clinical trials to test their efficiency for treating cancer, and many have shown promising results that have led to Western doctors finally realizing the true potential of TCM for cancer and other disease treatment.
One of the most recent studies was a two year collaboration between Cardiff university in the UK, and Peking University, China. The study, led by professor Wen Jiang, tested the effectiveness of a herbal formula known as Yangzheng Xiaoji, which is a combination of 14 different herbs. The formula was found to block a pathway in the body that allowed the spread of cancer cells, and effectively stopped metastasis in cancer patients. The results are extremely exciting for both doctors and cancer patients, and clinical trials for the testing the formula’s effectiveness against lung cancer and other forms of cancer are already underway.
Sceptics of acupuncture claim that any benefits from the therapy can be attributed to the placebo effect, and that any healing that takes place is simply the result of the power of suggestion. This theory actually coincides with the theory behind TCM that says that humans are all a part of a cosmic energy that flows throughout the universe, and by focusing the mind to the task of healing the body, the positive energy that is produced will have an effect on the physical world.
Acupuncture combined with Chinese herbs and other TCM treatments may not hold the magic cure-all for every type of cancer that afflicts mankind, but it can certainly help with many of the side effects and promote a healthy state of mind that makes it much harder for disease to thrive.