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Supporting your chemo with complementary care.

Inspire Health Event Calendar January 11, 2013

There are a number of complementary medical therapies that support patients undergoing chemotherapy by strengthening immune function and reducing side effects such as fatigue, nausea, vomiting and peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage causing numbness and tingling of extremities).

Complementary medical therapies can improve quality of life during chemotherapy and moderate the reduction in blood counts that are a common side effect of chemotherapy. With healthier blood counts you will be able to receive the full dose and course of chemotherapy, thereby, obtaining the maximum benefit from chemotherapy treatment.

InspireHealth’s physicians have had experience with the following complementary medical therapies for supporting health during chemotherapy. Research studies have also confirmed positive benefits with no reduction in effectiveness of chemotherapy. If you are receiving chemotherapy you may choose one or more of the following options with guidance from your InspireHealth physician.

 

Acupuncture 

Acupuncture has ancient historical roots in Traditional Chinese Medicine and was developed according to TCM principles to restore balance and harmony in the body to support healing. It is best known in the West for pain management and research studies have demonstrated that acupuncture enhances the brain’s production of endorphins [1, 2, 3] which have wide-reaching effects on the body including pain reduction, immune enhancement, autonomic nervous system regulation, stress reduction and emotional well-being. Research evidence has also shown the benefits of acupuncture for treatment and symptom management of common chemotherapy side effects such as nausea and vomiting [4] fatigue [5], and peripheral neuropathy [6].

 

Wheatgrass

Wheat grass juice is among a number of plant-based super foods that have uniquely potent actions supporting and protecting both the body’s immune mechanism and other normal cells from oxidative and toxic damage. It has been used as a natural remedy for a variety of chronic conditions. There has been a substantial use of wheat grass juice by cancer patients over the last 4 decades after its introduction by an American natural therapist, Anne Wigmore, in the 1960’s. The anecdotal reports of its effectiveness have never been established by research, but a recent prospective matched control study done in Israel showed it to be very effective in reducing the chemotherapy side effect of white and red blood cell suppression in a group of 60 women being treated with chemotherapy for breast cancer.

The thirty women in the study who drank 2 ounces of wheat grass juice daily during the course of their chemo treatments had one third the amount of marrow related toxicity when compared to the other 30 women.

This resulted in this group being three times more likely to complete their full chemo regime without dose reduction or early cessation, or without the use of expensive GCSF (granulocyte colony stimulation factor) medications which themselves have significant side effects and very high costs. There was no reduction in the effectiveness of the chemotherapy on the suppression of the cancer, when compared to the control group [7].

 

Footnotes

1. Pomeranz B. Do endorphins mediate acupuncture analgesia? Adv Biochem
Psychopharmacol. 1978;18:351-9.
2. Pomeranz B, Chiu D. Naloxone blockade of acupuncture analgesia: endorphin implicated. Life Sci. 1976 Dec 1;19(11):1757-62.
3. i-Sheng Han. Acupuncture and endorphins. Neuroscience letters. 2004; 361(1-3): 258-61.
4. Ezzo, JM, M. A. Richardson, A. Vickers, et al. Acupuncture-Point Stimulation for
Chemotherapy Induced Nausea Or Vomiting Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007 3:
5. Molassiotis, A, P. Sylt and H. Diggins. The Management of Cancer-Related Fatigue After Chemotherapy with Acupuncture and Acupressure: A Randomised Controlled Trial. Complement Ther Med. 2007 Dec; 154: 228-237.
6. Wong, R and S. Sagar. Acupuncture Treatment for Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral
Neuropathy – a Case Series Acupunct Med. 2006 Jun; 242: 87-91.
7. Bar-Sela, G, M. Tsalic, G. Fried and H. Goldberg. Wheat Grass Juice may Improve Hematological toxicity Related to Chemotherapy in Breast Cancer Patients: A Pilot Study. Nutrition & Cancer. 2007 581:43-48.