Battling and Beating Cancer — Coping With The Psychological & Social Aspects of Cancer Part 1

January 14, 2012 by  
Filed under STRESS, VIDEO

Battling and Beating Cancer — Coping With The Psychological & Social Aspects of Cancer Part 2

January 12, 2012 by  
Filed under STRESS, VIDEO

Acupuncture to treat “lazy eye”?

January 6, 2011 by  
Filed under VISION

Acupuncture is a very welcome alternative in treating anisometropic amblyopia.

Amblyopia, otherwise known as “azy eye”, is a disorder in which one eye works better than the other so that the brain uses the good eye gradually making the neural connection to the bad eye weaker.   This is usually fixed by occlusion therapy or patching, that is, by making a  patient wear a patch  over the good eye thereby forcing the bad eye to work harder. 

According to a study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology, 0.3-5%  of individuals worldwide have amblyopia and about 40%  of the cases are  due to anisometropia, a condition by which the two eyes have unequal refractive powers or degree of nearsightedness or farsightedness.     Correcting this visual error through wearing glasses and contact lenses is effective for young children but for children between 7-12, visual correction is not enough.  Although patching increases the success rate among these children, many do not like this therapy and it is easy to imagine that those who undergo this therapy, experience emotional problems. Who  wants to walk around with a patch on his/her eye at this age?   Another disadvantage of patching is the possibility of developing reverse amblyopia, wherein the originally good eye becomes worse although improvement takes place in the other.

The study from the Joint Shantou International Eye Center of Shantou University and Chinese University of Hong Kong compared treatment of the amblyopic eye with patching and acupuncture.  After 15 weeks of treatment an improvement was reported in both treatments, and that „Lazy eye was considered resolved in 16.7% of patched eyes and 41.5% of eyes in the acupuncture group.“   Although it is obvious that the study shows that the effect of acupuncture can be considered equivalent to patching in treating amblyopia, the researchers cannot explain the mechanism underlying its success but noted that  „Targeting vision-related acupoints may change the activity of the visual cortex, the part of the brain that receives data from the eyes. It may also increase blood flow to the eye and surrounding structures as well as stimulate the generation of compounds“.

The acupoints used in this study are highly recommendable for other clinical setups.  One must also bear in mind that there are „differences…among acupuncturists“  in terms of „manipulation modes“ and „treatment styles“, according to the reseachers.   But if acupuncture works, why not?

Acupuncture for heart failure patients

July 5, 2010 by  
Filed under HEART AND STROKE

Heart failure patients need physical activity but their hearts are too weak to do much exercise. So what’s a heart failure patient to do? The answer is needles – the traditional Chinese practice of acupuncture. This was reported by a pilot study by researchers at the University of Heidelberg Hospital.

Heart failure is condition characterized by chronic weakness of the heart muscle resulting in less efficient heart pumping. The reduction in heart power also translates in reduction in physical capacity to perform everyday actives like walking or climbing the stairs. In addition, the autonomic nervous system and its neurotransmitters become imbalanced, which further worsens the symptoms of shortness of breath and fatigue. The patient becomes intolerant to physical exertion.

How can acupuncture help?

Acupuncture doesn’t help with the heart muscle itself but rather influences the skeletal muscles. It counteracts the imbalance in the autonomic and parasympathetic nervous systems and “influences the autonomic nervous system (excitation), boosts the parasympathetic nervous system (relaxation), and also has an anti-inflammatory affect.”

In other words, the needle fight the fatigue and the exhausting, enabling the patients to tolerate more exercise.

The study results showed that those patients who received real acupuncture could walk longer distances and felt less fatigue than those patients who got the dud needles.

In addition, Acupuncture was also shown to influence the inflammation markers. These markers activate the so-called ergoreceptors which signal skeletal muscle exhaustion. Acupuncture was shown to reduce the levels of these markers including TNF alpha which reduces muscle mass and muscle strength.

This study has a great advantage over other studies on acupuncture that lend credence to its results. It compared real acupuncture with “placebo acupuncture” which used dull needles on blinded heart failure patients, e.g. the patients did not know which needles they received.

According to study leader Dr. Johannes Backs

“Most studies on the effectiveness of acupuncture have methodological weaknesses, as there are no placebo controls and the study participants are not ‘blinded’. This means that the patients know which treatment they are given and may therefore have certain expectations. In our studies, all patients thought they had received ‘real’ acupuncture.”

Acupuncture is currently being used as a low-cost adjunct therapy to current clinical practices. It has been shown to reduce side effects of chemotherapy and improve quality of life of cancer patients and is recommended to improve blood pressure control and other cardiovascular disorders.

Acupuncture had the following advantages to current therapies: non-invasiveness, low cost, and the absence of side effects associated with many drugs.

Acupuncture improves sex drive, quality of life in breast cancer patients

January 4, 2010 by  
Filed under CANCER

Cancer treatment comes with a lot of side effects, mild and severe, short-term and long-term. In recent years, complementary medicine has become an integral part of the management of the side effects of cancer treatment. The most popular complementary therapies are yoga, transcendental meditation, and acupuncture

In this recent study by researchers at the Henry Ford Hospital, acupuncture has beneficial effects that can reduce two other common side effects of breast cancer treatment – hot flashes and decreased sex drive.

 Acupuncture vs. drug therapy

The study compared venlafaxine (Effexor), a drug commonly used to manage hormone therapy side effects vs. acupuncture in 50 patients undergoing hormone therapy for breast cancer. Although effective, venlafaxine has its own die effects such as dry mouth, decreased appetite, nausea and constipation. The study showed that acupuncture is more effective in improving overall as well as mental health in this group of patients.

 Hot flashes

Night sweats and hot flashes are commonly experienced by breast cancer patients who undergo hormone therapy for breast cancer treatment. Although there are pharmacological agents (e.g. venlafaxine) that help ease these symptoms, acupuncture seems to have a longer-lasting effect compared to drugs.

According to lead author Dr. Eleanor Walker, division director of breast services in the Department of

Radiation Oncology at Henry Ford Hospital:

“Acupuncture offers patients a safe, effective and durable treatment option for hot flashes, something that affects the majority of breast cancer survivors. Compared to drug therapy, acupuncture actually has benefits, as opposed to more side effects.”

 Sex drive

Reduced sex drive is another side effect of cancer treatment. The study observed improved sex drive among patients who underwent acupuncture. Increasing a woman’s sex drive improves her sense of well-being.

 Quality of life

Night sweats and decreased sex drive are vasomotor symptoms caused by long-term hormone therapy. These symptoms lead to decreased quality of life, depression and even discontinuation of cancer treatment. However, patients who underwent acupuncture seemed to be able to cope better with the vasomotor symptoms. These reported a sense of well- being, more energy, and clarity of thought.

 About acupuncture

Acupuncture is a well-known form of traditional Oriental medicine based on the principle of stimulation of certain key body points. Acupuncture has been previously dismissed as “quack” by medical experts. However, its the health benefits is now slowly been recognized by. In a consensus statement in 1997, the National Institute of Health (NIH) stated

 “Acupuncture as a therapeutic intervention is widely practiced in the United States. While there have been many studies of its potential usefulness, many of these studies provide equivocal results because of design, sample size, and other factors. The issue is further complicated by inherent difficulties in the use of appropriate controls, such as placebos and sham acupuncture groups. However, promising results have emerged, for example, showing efficacy of acupuncture in adult postoperative and chemotherapy nausea and vomiting and in postoperative dental pain. There are other situations such as addiction, stroke rehabilitation, headache, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and asthma, in which acupuncture may be useful as an adjunct treatment or an acceptable alternative or be included in a comprehensive management program. Further research is likely to uncover additional areas where acupuncture interventions will be useful.”

Acupuncture can ease breast cancer side effects

January 19, 2009 by  
Filed under CANCER

Battling breast cancer is already a painful process for women who are suffering from this deadly disease. While breast cancer treatment can give them a fighting chance to survive, they also have to suffer from its side effects. It has been found that 80% of women who are undergoing chemotherapy and/or taking anti-oetrogen hormones like Tamoxifen and Armidex can suffer from hot flashes. These symptoms can be relieved by hormone replacement therapy but this may increase the risk the cancer coming back. Some patients are given steroids or antidepressant drugs to address this problem but these treatments may also result to weight gain, constipation, nausea and fatigue. The antidepressant, venlafaxine (Effexor) is commonly prescribed to women who are suffering from hot flashes but many are against this because this may cause insomnia, nausea, dizziness and decreased libido or they don’t want to take any more medications.

 A recent research study headed by Dr. Eleanor Walker, a radiation oncologist at the Henry Ford Hospital Department of Radiation Oncology in Detroit, showed that acupuncture may be an alternative to conventional drugs in reducing the side effects of breast cancer treatments. The first of its kind study showed that acupuncture is effective in reducing hot flashes, excessive sweating (vasomotor symptoms) and night sweats caused by breast cancer treatments. The procedure is also longer-lasting and has no treatment side effects compared to conventional drug therapy.

 The clinical trial was conducted on 47 breast cancer patients who were treated with Tamoxifen or Arimidex and were suffering from hot flashes at least 14 times per week. These patients were then treated with acupuncture or venlafixine for 12 weeks to find out if acupuncture is effective in reducing vasomotor symptoms of these patients undergoing hormonal treatment. The results showed that acupuncture can be as effective as venlafixine in reducing hot flashes but has no side effects like the antidepressant drug.

“Our study shows that physicians and patients have an additional therapy for something that affects the majority of breast cancer survivors and actually has benefits, as opposed to more side effects. The effect is more durable than a drug commonly used to treat these vasomotor symptoms and, ultimately, is more cost-effective for insurance companies,” according to Dr. Walker.

 Acupuncture is a well-known form of traditional Oriental medicine based on the principle of stimulation of certain key body points. Acupuncture has been previously dismissed as “quack” by medical experts. However, its the health benefits is now slowly been recognized by. In a consensus statement in 1997, the National Institute of Health (NIH) stated

Acupuncture as a therapeutic intervention is widely practiced in the United States. While there have been many studies of its potential usefulness, many of these studies provide equivocal results because of design, sample size, and other factors. The issue is further complicated by inherent difficulties in the use of appropriate controls, such as placebos and sham acupuncture groups. However, promising results have emerged, for example, showing efficacy of acupuncture in adult postoperative and chemotherapy nausea and vomiting and in postoperative dental pain. There are other situations such as addiction, stroke rehabilitation, headache, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and asthma, in which acupuncture may be useful as an adjunct treatment or an acceptable alternative or be included in a comprehensive management program. Further research is likely to uncover additional areas where acupuncture interventions will be useful.”

Photo credit: wikipedia

Acupuncture and cardiovascular health

December 31, 2008 by  
Filed under HEART AND STROKE

Millions of Americans are into some of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), according to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). In total 38% of adults and 12% of children in the US are “doing” CAM. One of the most common forms of CAM is acupuncture.

Acupuncture is a well-known form of traditional Chinese medicine although there are actually other forms which include (aside from classical Chinese style), Korean, Japanese, Tibetan, and Vietnamese acupuncture.

Acupuncture utilizes the principle of stimulation of certain key body points. Traditionally, stimulation is done manually using thin, metallic needles penetrating the skin. However, the practice has evolved to include the use of modern technology for stimulation – including electrical impulses, lasers, moxibustion, and heat.

The practice of acupuncture used to be dismissed as “quack medicine”. However, the health benefits of acupuncture have slowly been recognized by medical experts. In a consensus statement in 1997, the National Institute of Health (NIH) stated

Acupuncture as a therapeutic intervention is widely practiced in the United States. While there have been many studies of its potential usefulness, many of these studies provide equivocal results because of design, sample size, and other factors. The issue is further complicated by inherent difficulties in the use of appropriate controls, such as placebos and sham acupuncture groups. However, promising results have emerged, for example, showing efficacy of acupuncture in adult postoperative and chemotherapy nausea and vomiting and in postoperative dental pain. There are other situations such as addiction, stroke rehabilitation, headache, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and asthma, in which acupuncture may be useful as an adjunct treatment or an acceptable alternative or be included in a comprehensive management program. Further research is likely to uncover additional areas where acupuncture interventions will be useful.”

In recent years, acupuncture has gained popularity as an alternative and complementary treatment of various ailments and symptoms. The main reason for this is the non-pharmacologic nature of acupuncture, thus avoiding the side effects and complications that many drugs can cause.

Acupuncture has been recommended in the control and management of hypertension and other cardiovascular disorders. In a meta-analysis study, Korean researchers conducted systematic review of clinical studies to evaluate the effect of acupuncture on blood pressure (BP) in hypertensive patients. The results showed that there is actually a paucity of good and reliable data on this topic.

The meta-analysis concluded that “…evidence to date does not support acupuncture treatment to reduce BP…controlled trials found no difference between acupuncture alone and active medication, small numbers and poor reporting should be carefully considered before jumping into a promising conclusion…”

In other words, the results are inconclusive. The authors further recommend that more studies with “rigorous methodology” are needed to find out the truth between acupuncture and BP.

However, this doesn’t mean to say that acupuncture and other CAM are worthless. As NIH observed that

“…the scientific basis of some of the key traditional Eastern medical concepts … are difficult to reconcile with contemporary biomedical information but continue to play an important role in the evaluation of patients and the formulation of treatment in acupuncture.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Photo credit: wikipedia

The Role of Acupuncture in Cancer Treatment

August 25, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER

Acupuncture is used as both an alternative and a complementary cancer therapy and is utilized for cancer and associated treatment symptoms.

Alternative therapy is a plan of care that is utilized instead of the traditionally recommended therapy. Complementary therapy works hand-in-hand with traditional therapies. For more information on complementary and alternative therapies for cancer see the Battling Cancer archives.

The American Cancer Society lists important guidelines to understanding these therapies to help the cancer patient make informed decisions.

Mayo Clinic lists acupuncture in it’s list of recommended alternative treatments saying :

“Alternative cancer treatments can’t cure your cancer, but they may provide some relief from signs and symptoms caused by cancer and cancer treatments. Common signs and symptoms such as anxiety, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, pain, difficulty sleeping, and stress may be lessened by alternative treatments.”

In fact many cancer treatment facilities offer acupuncture as part of their complementary and alternative therapy programs.

Check out MD Anderson’s CancerWise for an in depth interview with an acupuncture physician, The American Cancer Society site on acupuncture.

So how does acupuncture work? There are several theories.

The Western culture theory of acupuncture is that it stimulates nerves, muscles and connective tissues also stimulating the blood flow and stimulating the body’s endorphins to relieve pain or relieves pain via the gate theory. The gate theory is that of not removing pain but of blocking pain.

The Eastern theory of acupuncture is that energy flows through the body at meridians. When these meridians are blocked pain and illness ensue. Acupuncture restores this flow and energy harmony. This Youtube video explains this theory.

Acupuncture sessions require the placement of sterile needles which are inserted at key points and remain in place for approximately twenty minutes.

Acupuncture Facts from the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture:

  • Non-physician acupuncturists are required by law in most states to use disposable one-time-use sterilized needles. Physicians because of their experience and background in infection control have the prerogative of using re-usable sterilized needles. These needles would need to be sterilized in the same way as any surgical instrument.
  • While the degree of beneficial results from acupuncture treatment is dependent on various clinical factors such as presenting symptoms, clinical staging, timing of the encounter in the course of the illness, areas of involvement, the answer to the opening question “can acupuncture help me?” is, in all probability, that it can help in the care of the cancer patient.
  • Acupuncture treatments vary because of the wide variations in the styles of acupuncture performed. Generally three to fifteen needles will be placed. Costs vary depending on locale and practitioners training and experience.

Read more

More of Alternative Therapies For Arthritis Patients

May 25, 2008 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

I found the following report entitled: Beyond the Pill Bottle: Alternative Arthritis Therapies which emphasizes the benefits of alternative therapies for arthritis patients.

“Beyond the pill bottle” may have a serious or funny ring to it, but for most arthritis sufferers whose fingers’ joints are inflicted with the debilitating arthritis, they may not even be able to open the pill bottle. I totally agree, besides I am a total promoter of alternative treatments.

Fingers and hands are particularly susceptible to pain and inflammation that can cause difficulty in gripping, pinching and grasping — motions needed to perform simple, everyday tasks. Non-medicinal treatments — from supplements to specially designed gloves — can help improve pain relief and quality of life for many arthritis sufferers.

I mean…we shouldn’t realy on medical pills alone, especially the ones that render you with harmful side effects. The said report enumarates the importance of mild to moderate exercise. It said: use your joints or lose it!

  • help improve flexibility and reduce pain in the long term
  • help keep joints moving
  • strengthen muscles connected to joints
  • preserve bone health
  • control weight that greatly impacts arthritis pain
  • improve your overall health and fitness

And then the real alternative treatments enumerated are massage, acupunture and acupressure.

Massage is an age-old treatment that has proven therapeutic for a wide range of ailments, including arthritis. Both self- and professional massage can work well. If you choose to have a professional massage, make sure the therapist is experienced in working with arthritis patients.

Acupuncture and acupressure have become widely accepted pain-relief therapies. The World Health Organization views acupuncture as a valid, useful treatment for a number of ailments, including chronic pain. As always, consult your physician when considering acupuncture as a treatment. Be sure the therapist you choose has experience working with arthritis patients.

I assure you that regular massage helps a lot. it has helped improve my circulation as opposed to the blood ciculation meds I was given before that has given me palpitations. Also, It helped improve the movements in my knees and helped relax taut muscles.

I’ve yet to try acupunture just becasue there isn’t an acupunturist in my area. But if I find one, I will surely try it out. Of course, talking leisurely walks (in the mornings or afternoons) helps a lot, especially that I am stucked in front of a computer most of the day.

What about you? What kind of alternative therapies have you used that helped in managing your arthritis?

Acupuncture and Breast Cancer: Leading Charity begins World’s Largest Study

November 15, 2007 by  
Filed under CANCER

Hi there, readers! Since I’ll be on the road travelling for the next two days, I asked Amanda Devereaux, one of my former bosses and best friends, to step in for me for the following guest post.   Amanda, who is blessed with both beauty and brains, has a Ph.D. in Microbiology and is currently working in a cancer research laboratory.  I’m sure you’ll find her opinions as entertaining as I do!

If any of you reading this are like me, there are two words that should never be spoken in the same sentence:  acupuncture (Aka: sharp, steel needles) and breast (soft, nerve-filled mammary tissue that hurts when poked with a sharp, steel needle).  I guess the British have a different approach on how to get their kicks than I do.  Different strokes for different folks, as the saying goes. 

All joking aside, the Breakthrough Breast Cancer charity in the UK is involved with a study that will investigate the effectiveness of acupuncture treatment in helping to alleviate fatigue in women undergoing chemotherapy.  Fatigue, nausea, and hot flashes are just a few of the side effects patients endure while undergoing treatment for their cancer.  To combat these unwanted symptoms, some patients have turned to complementary therapies to ease the side effects of chemotherapy, including massage, aromatherapy, and acupuncture

The study will include 320 women who have undergone chemotherapy within a 5 year limit and experience elevated levels of fatigue.  Patients will either receive 6 weekly sessions of acupuncture or standard care (kind of a vague option).  After the initial 6 week period, the acupuncture group will be split, and a group will continue to receive acupuncture treatment for an additional 4 weeks, another group will undertake self-acupuncture, and the last group will no longer be used as a pin cushion.  Fatigue levels of all patients will then be monitored for an additional three years. 

Now, I may be a little slow on some subjects, but I think that the last thing a cancer patient would need is to be stuck with another needle.  Every time they turn around, someone else is sticking them with needles.  Alternately, while I understand the benefits of these types of studies, and I am all for easing the suffering of any cancer patient, whose bright idea was it for people to STICK THEMSELVES WITH NEEDLES?????  It is bad enough when someone else sticks you with a needle.  Self-acupuncture, are you kidding me?  I can barely floss my teeth without taking out an eye, and most of the people that I meet everyday shouldn’t be trusted to walk around with scissors.  While I don’t particularly care for the use of acupuncture on my person, as I am a gutless weenie, I do believe that it may provide some health benefits when administered by a professional.  I look forward to following the progression of this study, along with the end results just to see how many people have lost an eye. 

Acupuncture For Stroke Patients

February 7, 2007 by  
Filed under HEART AND STROKE

By Karina Jacobsen

In recent years many stroke patients have begun to turn to ancient Chinese medicines and cures to help them recover from their stroke. They use these along with modern medications and treatments as well. Alternative medicine does seem to have some great effects on stroke patients and has helped them to fight fatigue and also has helped to ease the tension in their muscles as well.

Many people who have suffered from a stroke have been left with permanent problems that keep them from taking part in activities that used to be normal for them. This can include activities such as speaking, being able to walk, seeing, reasoning, remembering, and understanding concepts. There are many treatments that can help stroke patients and some of these treatments actually use a mirror to get visual clues so that patient can receive help.

Once Chinese form of alternative medicine that is being used to treat stoke patients is acupuncture. Acupuncture uses a special machine to stimulate needles that have been turned into specific places in the body. While many doctors in the past have disagreed on the effectiveness of acupuncture, more and more studies are showing that acupuncture does have some great benefits. Today acupuncture is more widely accepted in the medical field and many doctors are seeing the great benefits it has to offer.

Acupuncture basically offers electrotherapy and is supposed to help balance the energy in the body. When acupuncture has been used on stroke patients within the first year after their stroke it has been found to be very effective. Acupuncture has helped to improve their speaking and other motor skills, as well as the way the blood circulates through the body. When a stroke occurs, it is because of lack of blood flow to a certain part of the brain, and this causes tissue damage in the brain, which is permanent. Many stroke patients lose many of the abilities they used to have and this becomes very frustrating to them. Rehabilitation is a very important part of stroke recovery, and using acupuncture as a part of this rehabilitation can provide wonderful benefits to stroke patients.

Although acupuncture is relatively new to many peoples’ thinking, it has been around for hundreds of years, originating with the Chinese. Modern medicine has found that acupuncture does have many benefits if it is done correctly. If you are a stroke patient and you decide to turn to acupuncture for help, be sure that you have it done by someone that is licensed to do it. You do not want to go to just anyone, but want to find someone who has a great reputation, so they can help you and not hurt you.

About the Author: Karina Jacobsen is a staff writer at Alternative Health Advisor and is an occasional contributor to several other websites, including Wellness Digest.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.