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Originating in traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is the belief of a system of energy channels in the body, helping to provide a feeling of wellness and helping to relieve several treatment-related side effects.

Acupuncture is a treatment in which fine needles are inserted at certain sites in the body. The acupuncture needles stimulate nerves under the skin and in muscle tissue, causing the body to produce natural chemicals, such as endorphins, which are hormones that give you a feeling of wellbeing.

Some people believe acupuncture helps with some side effects of chemotherapy, such as nausea and sickness, when given alongside conventional anti-sickness drugs. Others believe acupuncture may also be helpful in the treatment of pain.

There is no evidence to show that acupuncture can cure cancer. But research suggests that it is helpful in relieving some symptoms of cancer or the side effects of treatment. The main areas of research into acupuncture for cancer are chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting, fatigue and pain.

If you have a low platelet or white blood cell count, acupuncture may not be recommended as you could have a greater risk of bleeding and infection.

Before starting acupuncture, always check with your doctor and make sure your acupuncture practitioner knows your full medical and drug history – especially if anything has changed.

Published Feb 2016

Next planned review: Feb 2018