Mainstream medicine is becoming more accepting of other less traditional therapies.Studies have shown that complementary therapies such as acupuncture can have a broad range of benefits for cancer patients. Acupuncture is part of ancient Chinese medicine. It's been around for thousands of years.
But only recently has it been offered to help patients cope with the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. "These are therapies that have not traditionally been part of what medicine has offered patients, like massage, nutrition, counseling, and acupuncture," said oncologist Dr. Neal Rothschild.
Complementary therapies like acupuncture can be useful in treating many side effects of cancer treatment. "It can be very helpful with addressing the nausea and vomiting that can frequently be associated with different cancer treatments. And we've also found it is very effective in treating hot flashes which is a common side effect of some of the medications that we use, explained Dr. Rothschild. Harmony Brown studied acupuncture in Shanghai and worked in an oncology unit there. "Each point has a specific function. And the whole point of acupuncture is to balance. And based on each individual we come up with specific prescriptions or points to use to basically bring back balance to the body," said Brown. And this will bring new balance to the medical field as alternative approaches work in conjunction with traditional medicine. "Over the last few years we've seen it move more and more into the mainstream. All the major cancer centers across the country - Sloan Kettering, Dana Farber, M.D. Anderson - have started programs in integrative oncology," admitted Dr. Rothschild.