Q: Is it best to receive acupuncture the day before or
the day after chemo treatment for breast cancer to relieve nausea?
Julie Argyle writes: Many studies have been published confirming the
efficacy of acupuncture for nausea from chemotherapy, but there is very little
solid research concerning the best timing for acupuncture treatments.
Acupuncture can be done before, during, and/or after chemotherapy. In my
experience, the most effective time for acupuncture depends on a variety of
The anticipated time of the onset of nausea is a factor
in the timing of acupuncture. Most chemotherapeutic agents used for breast
cancer are metabolized in the body within 48 to 72 hours. This is the time
period that nausea can occur. Individual sensitivity affects how quickly
chemotherapy is metabolized, which in turn can affect when nausea will occur
if left untreated. Different individuals will experience nausea at different
times -- anywhere from immediately following chemotherapy, to the first,
second, or third day after. Some people with high levels of
Anxiety can even
experience nausea before chemotherapy. If you have high
Anxiety levels, you
should consider acupuncture before chemotherapy (the same day). If I know a
person typically experiences nausea from past chemotherapy, I try to
schedule acupuncture up to eight hours prior to the chemotherapy treatment.
(Some studies suggest that the antiemetic properties of acupuncture can last
up to 8 hours.) If there is no history of prior chemotherapy, I prefer to
schedule acupuncture the day after chemo treatment. This seems to be the
time when most nausea is likely to occur if left untreated.
The anticipated severity of symptoms is another factor
in the timing and frequency of acupuncture. The emetic potential of
different chemotherapeutic agents varies. Individual sensitivity will also
affect severity of symptoms and can be determined by a TCM evaluation. Based
on your TCM evaluation and the type of chemotherapy you will receive, your
acupuncturist can anticipate the likelihood and severity of side effects
that you might experience. If your nausea is likely to be mild, one
acupuncture treatment is usually sufficient. For moderate nausea, two
acupuncture treatments are usually scheduled. If the practitioner determines
that your nausea could be severe, I would suggest a more aggressive
acupuncture approach: perhaps treatment before chemo the same day, during
chemo, and after chemo daily for one to three days. In most cases, this is
Q: I am a
41-year-old woman with rosacea and would like to know how TCM can treat this
frustrating skin condition. My doctor has prescribed antibiotics but they have
A: Ann Rosen writes: Rosacea, like all Western diagnoses, must first be
placed in a TCM context. From our perspective, this condition can have a variety
of presentations, each with its own unique etiology. Often, patients with
rosacea and similar skin conditions exhibit symptoms
of heat (e.g., blood heat, heat toxin or trapped heat) that may have resulted
from improper diet or an external pathogen and/or stagnation due to the impaired
flow of qi and blood. Such conditions are considered imbalances that can cause a
multitude of health issues over time, and in your case, this skin condition is
one of the results. In many cases, antibiotics will exacerbate the condition
because it can impair digestion and lead to further stagnation and heat.
In order to treat your condition effectively, a practitioner must determine
the root of your imbalance. An extensive interview would be geared toward
learning more about your skin condition (nature, location, duration, onset,
etc.) and your overall health and lifestyle history. These details, along with
the information your practitioner will discover during a thorough tongue and
pulse examination, will provide clues about the underlying cause of your rosacea.
Ultimately, your condition could be attributed to many causes ranging from
stress, diet or a previous illness to an emotional or physical trauma or any
combination of these. Once your practitioner determines a diagnosis, she/he can
formulate a treatment plan using acupuncture and herbal medicine. Often a
practitioner will also make suggestions for dietary and lifestyle changes that
can also help restore balance and alleviate the condition.
I have a compressed disk - L5 - and chronic lower back pain. There is
partial numbness in the back of the right leg from the buttock to the knee.
Can I expect any relief from acupuncture?
A: Fred Russo writes: There have been many good studies on the treatment of
chronic low back pain. I have seen many patients with similar medical histories
and symptoms and have offered relief via acupuncture.
I also use Chinese herbal medicine as part of the treatment. You can expect
significant improvement upon several consecutive sessions. Complete relief may
take more time, depending on your compliance with supplementation, diet, light
exercise and massage therapy.
Can acupuncture help symptoms of depression?
A: Yali Fan writes: Yes. The common symptoms of depression are feeling sad,
irritable or anxious; crying easily; lacking self-confidence; having low
self-esteem; poor concentration; indecisiveness; negative expectations;
hopelessness; helplessness; fatigue; insomnia or hypersomnia. Some patients may
have other kinds of pain.
Acupuncture treatments can relax and calm the mind to help depression,
anxiety and sleep disorders as well as improve energy to relive fatigue and
related negative symptoms. For patients with other kinds of physical pain,
acupuncture can relieve the symptoms and, thus, help the patients feel better.
About our Doctors:
Fred Russo is an acupuncturist at WellSpanís Center for Mind Body
Health. He specializes in womenís health issues and pain management. Russo also
has six years of experience as a licensed nurse with a focus on geriatrics and
Julie Argyle received her masterís degree from Pacific College of
Oriental Medicine in 1994. She is an acupuncturist at the University of
Pittsburgh Cancer Institute where she participates in herbal and acupuncture
research and provides clinical care for cancer patients.
Ann Tomoko Rosen, M.S.T.O.M., L.Ac., C.A., is one of the Co-Founders
of the Center for Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine in NYC and a Principal of
Acupuncture Health Associates in New Jersey. Ann and her husband, Ross Rosen,
utilize an integrative approach to healing, combining acupuncture, herbal
medicine, eastern nutrition and taiji/qigong. Together they lecture frequently
on various health issues related to acupuncture and herbal medicine. For more
information please visit
Yali Fan practices Traditional Chinese medicine including acupuncture,
Tuina (Chinese medical massage and pediatric massage), Qigong, herbal medicine,
dietary therapy and nutrition. Dr. Fan has a medical degree from China and has
19 years of clinical and teaching experience (12 years in China and 7 years in
Florida). Dr. Fan is also the author of six books.