Acupuncture is an ancient system of healing from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and involves the stimulation of special points on the body, known as acupuncture points, for therapeutic or preventive purposes. It centres on the belief that energy flows through the body along channels and that energy flow, known as Qi (pronounced chi), can be disturbed by many factors. By inserting fine, sterile, disposable acupuncture needles into the channels of energy, or specific points located on body, acupuncturists aim to stimulate the body’s response and help to restore the flow so it moves in a smooth and balanced way. Acupuncture can influence the body via the nervous system to help restore balance, improve the function of the body and relieve symptoms.
First session begins with a consultation and a discussion of your medical history. TCM acupuncturists may also look at your tongue and take your pulse to help to decide which meridians to work on and where to place the needles. The remaining time is spent having the acupuncture treatment itself. The acupuncturist will insert up to 12 fine acupuncture needles into appropriate acupuncture points on the body. The needles used are extremely small and fine, very different from needles used for injections.
These will usually stay in for at least 20 minutes while you rest. The experience can leave you feeling more grounded, refreshed, and relaxed. Acupuncture can be helpful with the relief of symptoms and side effects at any stage of cancer and its treatments and is usually given in a course of 3-6 treatments, according to the needs of the individual. Each session lasts for up to one hour.
Traditional acupuncture is a branch of TCM, a tried and tested healthcare system that has been practised for thousands of years in China and the Far East. All styles of acupuncture currently practised around the world trace their roots back to the first known book of Chinese Medicine, the Classic of Internal Medicine of the Yellow Emperor, which dates back to between the first century BC and the first century AD. In China during the early part of the twentieth century traditional medicine fell out of fashion as symptomatic healthcare treatments were imported from the West along with other cultural influences. Calls by Western trained doctors to ban traditional Chinese medicine were rejected by the National Medical Assembly in Shanghai on 17 March 1929. This day is still celebrated every year as Chinese Doctors Day.
Traditional Chinese medicine remained in the shadow of Western medicine until the Long March of 1934-5. Without drugs, anaesthetics or surgery, vast numbers of sick and wounded soldiers faced death until doctors of traditional Chinese medicine achieved amazing results using acupuncture and other traditional methods of treatment. From this point on, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and western medicine were practised side by side in China. Under the People’s Republic of China, established in 1948, all branches of TCM were nurtured and encouraged to grow. By 1978, whole hospitals and research departments were devoted to the practice of TCM. Today traditional acupuncture is practised all around the world and clinical trials are now confirming its efficacy. More and more people are able to benefit as traditional acupuncture becomes a recognised option within standard healthcare.
Acupuncture is available in some parts of the UK from the NHS; your GP should have information about this. All individual acupuncturists in the Yes to Life directory are based within the UK and have been specially selected by Yes to Life on the basis of their suitability. They are all working within one of the many specialist cancer support units. All are fully qualified and insured and are required to have a minimum of 2 years experience of working with and supporting cancer patients and their relatives, although in most cases they have been working in the field for much longer than that.
If you are contacting one of the clinics on the directory, please check that your acupuncturist is fully qualified, is a member of a recognised professional body which represents their therapy and that they have public liability insurance. Several studies have found that acupuncture can reduce chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting and can also effectively reduce certain types of pain, particularly lower back pain as recommended by NICE. The evidence for acupuncture’s role in cancer-related pain reduction is promising but inconclusive, although in some cases acupuncture has enabled patients to reduce levels of pain medication required. It may also help to relieve some of the other possible side effects of cancer treatments such as fatigue, breathlessness, difficulty sleeping, dry mouth, anxiety, hot flushes and night sweats, although research is inconclusive and more high quality research is needed.
£40 – 80. Some clinics offer an initial package of up to eight free/ low cost sessions. Further private session range from £40 to 80 for initial consultation, further sessions £30 to 70.
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