acupuncture needles

Acupuncture can help cancer patients, survivors and care givers

Cancer patients and their care givers face many challenges, both physical and emotional, in their journey through diagnosis, treatment and post treatment care.  In this article I will talk about how adding acupuncture to your treatment plan and self-care techniques can benefit you.

Anxiety, insomnia, depression

A cancer diagnosis and the treatment itself can be a cause of a great deal of mental and emotional suffering. There often arises fear, anxiety, and depression as a result of the uncertainties and losses that you may face.  There are many mind/body techniques that can help manage these feelings, including yoga, meditation, prayer, and exercise. Acupuncture is excellent for alleviating the symptoms caused by stress.  Acupuncture treatments create a sense of wellbeing and ease. Some of my patients have used the feelings they get in acupuncture as a road map to the peace they attain in their personal meditations which they find very helpful in dealing with anxiety.


Physical pain often accompanies cancer, caused either by the cancer itself, or the methods of treatment, such as surgery or anti-cancer medications.  Western medicine treatment often involves the use of powerful pain medications to manage the cancer patient’s symptoms, and these are often appropriate.

Research studies have shown that acupuncture causes the body to release its own opioid substances like endorphins –that suppress the sensation of pain, which may explain one of the reasons acupuncture works. That same research shows that while acupuncture alone may not better than drug treatment, the combination of medication with acupuncture treatment provides significantly better relief from pain by increasing the time that a patient is pain free, shortening the time period to relief, promoting longer pain free duration, and improving quality of life.

Nausea from chemo therapy

Not all chemotherapy drugs cause nausea, and there are many effective medical treatments to help manage nausea these days.   However, if you continue to have issues, acupuncture treatments are very effective in alleviating chemotherapy induced nausea.

Hot flashes and night sweats

The treatments for some cancers can have the side effect of hot flashes and night sweats.  Acupuncture has been shown to improve the body’s ability to regulate temperature and alleviate these symptoms.

Alleviating side effects of cancer prevention drugs

Some cancer survivors are on cancer prevention drugs for a period of time after treatment to decrease the chance of recurrence, for example, Tomaxafin or Aromatase Inhibitors.  Some of these medications have side effects that include arthritis like pain or hot flashes. Acupuncture is very effective in alleviating these symptoms, allowing survivors to continue taking their medications.

Care for the care giver

It has become well known that care givers experience their own suffering during the diagnosis and treatment of a loved one.  They can become overwhelmed, exhausted and anxious in addition to any health ailments they may already be facing. Because acupuncture is so effective in alleviating the feelings associated with stress and for pain relief, care givers can also benefit from regular acupuncture treatment.

Karen Borla, Licensed acupuncturist, has been practicing acupuncture since 1998 and has many years of experience treating cancer patients and cancer survivors.  Her office in West Hartford, Connecticut provides a peaceful and welcoming environment.  She can be reached at (860) 523-9424.