Pain Control and Help for Nausea in Cancer Treatment Without Needles

March 28, 2011 by  
Filed under Health, Medical Research & Studies

I have often extolled the value of acupuncture having benefited hugely from it myself for back pain and seen its value with friends for pain control during childbirth. It has also been successfully tried for treating nausea in cancer patients, however, I know that needles are not the answer for everyone, however attracted they may be to try it out.

Just for them there is great news from the Karolinska Institutet and Linköping University in Sweden that shows that ‘simulated’ needles are apparently just as effective as ‘real’ acupuncture.

Cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy often suffer debilitating nausea and a trial of 277 patients found that when the group were randomly assigned traditional or placebo (without needles) acupuncture or just the standard medications for nausea the results surprised them.

Patients in both the acupuncture groups, real or simulated, suffered significantly less nausea than patients, who received only standard medications. Anna Enblom, researcher at the Osher Centre for Integrative Medicine at Karolinska Institutet commented: “The beneficial effects seem not to come from the traditional acupuncture method, but probably from the patients’ positive expectations and the extra care that the treatment entails.”

Which is indeed one of the standard arguments used against most ‘alternative’ therapies as it is perceived only as a placebo effect. However I would argue that the interaction, concern and care act physiologically as well as emotionally on the immune system and stimulates the patient’s own healing process.

This is borne out by the statistics of the research which show that of the patients who had had some form of acupuncture, only 37 felt nausea and seven per cent vomited, compared with 63 per cent and 15 per cent of the standard care group. The patients’ expectations seemed to be important for the effect: 81 per cent of those who expected to feel ill did so, in contrast to only 50 per cent of those who did not.

Dr Emblom makes an valuable observation here that I would love to see other doctors take on board: “It’s important to remember that the effects of the treatment are valuable to the patients, even if they can be said to have been caused by unspecific factors, such as the manner in which the patients were taken care of and their positive expectations.”

One of the constant refrains I have is that your attitude affects your health, and this study seems to confirm that it also affects your treatment and how you respond to it.

Simple fasting can reduce chemotherapy effects

May 13, 2008 by  
Filed under Food & Nutrition, Health, Natural Medicine

It is one of the basic tenets of naturopathy that regular fasting will aid your body’s own natural defence systems to be activated as it is cleansed of toxins. It usually involves eating no solid food and drinking only water for periods from a day to a week or longer, but only under supervision, though some fasts may involve eating just fruit – usually grapes.

Researchers at the University of Southern California have just discovered a new benefit of fasting that is of huge interest to anyone undergoing chemotherapy. Whilst undertaking anti-ageing research they discovered that certain stressors activate a protective “shield mode” in healthy cells.

What stresses the body most? Certainly being starved is one of the major ones and what the US researchers are suggesting is that if cancer patients fast for two days before chemotherapy that may set in motion a protective reaction in healthy cells, guarding them from some of the more unpleasant and toxic side effects. Cancer patients are often given drugs like Procrit to prevent such side effects so this more natural method would certainly be worth trying.

Also, although it is not ‘news’ as such, it might be worth reminding you that homeopathy also has a lot to offer here. Radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatments for cancer can have significant side effects and homoeopathy has been shown to be useful in terms of emotional support, reduction of anxiety and depression and in the treatment of the side effects from chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery.

Remedies for various treatments for cancer can be obtained from a homoepathic practitioner or by mail order from Ainsworth’s in Wigmore Street in London or from Galen, a practice I use in Dorchester, who make their own tablets and have a good free advice service. If you want to contact them ring 01305 263996.