Radiation therapy is used to treat cancer. It can cause side-effects by damaging normal, healthy cells near the cancer site. Short term side-effects of radiation generally begin during or shortly after treatment, and generally resolve within several weeks of the end of radiation therapy. The more common and generalized side-effects of radiation therapy are fatigue, and skin problems. Other early side-effects are usually related to the area being treated such as xerostomia (dry mouth) or hair loss when the head and neck are being treated, or nausea and diarrhea when the abdomen or pelvis are being treated.
Studies show that acupuncture can effectively treat xerostomia, gastro-intestinal issues (nausea, diarrhea), and generally reduce pain, relax the patient and help them access their parasympathetic nervous system.
Pinkowish, M. D. (2009). Acupressure and acupuncture for side effects of radiotherapy. CA: a cancer journal for clinicians, 59(5), 277-280.
Cho, J. H., Chung, W. K., Kang, W., Choi, S. M., Cho, C. K., & Son, C. G. (2008). Manual acupuncture improved quality of life in cancer patients with radiation-induced xerostomia. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 14(5), 523-526.
Author: Erica Rosen, LAc, EAMP, Dipl.OM