Acupuncture and Chemotherapy

If you or a loved one is going through chemotherapy, “chemo”, you know how difficult it can be and what a difference support makes. In addition to processing the diagnosis of cancer and working through all the logistics, there is more stress, most likely the gamut of emotions: anger, anxiety, fear, grief, and worry. With treatment can come challenges to sleep and energy; and many people keep working and continue with their daily activities while going through chemo. It can be overwhelming. Ideally there is a strong support system in place but, often times, the burden of putting on a tough face and being strong for yourself and to ease the worries of your loved ones, can be difficult. There are many ways to cope through this time. One of the most supportive ways to care for yourself before, during, and after cancer treatments is acupuncture. Now is the time to start taking care of yourself. At our clinic, the Acupuncture Clinic of Boulder, we are here to help you. Studies have shown that acupuncture can help with fatigue, chemo induced nausea, chemo induced peripheral neuropathy, pain, depression, itching, and irritability.

Acupuncture is highly accepted as an adjunct, supportive therapy, with cancer treatments.This is a perfect opportunity to blend eastern and western medicine. Chemo if often your best choice to fight cancer and acupuncture can help manage the difficult side effects. Acupuncture treats the body as a whole and will help address your stress, emotions, and the physical side effects of chemo.

The following studies are a few examples of how acupuncture may help with the side effects of chemotherapy.

When should I get acupuncture?

Each person responds differently to acupuncture. Most people do better throughout chemo treatment if they start getting acupuncture treatments twice a week before they start chemo, and before symptoms begin. For many people, they have noticed having acupuncture the day before chemo treatments and two days after treatment when the side effects seem to be at their worst, keeps their symptoms at bay. Getting acupuncture before chemo will help balance your body and mind so that you are in a good place to handle the side effects of chemo. Getting acupuncture after chemo will help your body re-balance and reduce the side effects of chemo. Acupuncture can minimize nausea, decrease fatigue, address depression, irritability, and decrease any pain you might be experiencing.

While the appetite may be dulled with chemo, is is vital to continue to eat nutrient rich foods. Nausea and loss of appetite are common side effects of chemo. We recommend eating cooked, and warm in temperature food which can be easier for your body to digest., Below is a recipe for bone broth found in Cancer Fighting Kitchen by Rebecca Katz. Keep in mind, if you don’t have the time or energy to make your own bone broth, there are many quality options you can find at a natural grocery store.

Pasture Bone Broth for Cancer patients

Rebecca Katz – Cancer Fighting Kitchen


3 lbs marrow bones from grass-fed beef (or venison bone)

6 unpeeled carrots cut into thirds

2 unpeeled yellow onions, cut into chunks

1 leek, white and green parts, washed and cut into thirds

1 bunch celery cut into thirds

4 unpeeled red potatoes

2 unpeeled Japanese or regular sweet potatoes quartered

1 unpeeled garnet yam, quartered

5 unpeeled cloves of garlic

1/2 bunch of fresh parsley

1 8-inch strip of Kombu (dried seaweed found at the Asian market)

12 black peppercorns

2 bay leaves

1 Tbsp apple cider

8 quarts filtered water

1 tsp salt (Rebecca uses 2 Tbsp Braggs Amino Acids )

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees, place bones on a baking sheet for 30 minutes.

Rinse all vegetables and Kombu well. In a 12-16 quart stockpot, combine all and bring to a boil, skim top, then simmer for 8-24 hours add water if needed.

Remove and discard bones, then strain the broth through a large sieve. Let cool, skim fat then freeze.

Shortcut: To make a short-cut version, roast the marrow bones as directed and place in a 6 ½ quart slow cooker. Cover with Magic Mineral broth and add the vinegar. Set the slow cooker on low for 8 to 24 hours, and allow the broth to simmer away. Strain the broth and refrigerate it overnight, then skim the fat, and add 2 more quarts of magic mineral broth.

For more information on Bone Broth, you can also look at this recipe.

Cancer is a difficult diagnosis and has both health and social implications. The meaning attached to this diagnosis creates many thoughts and feelings. It is important to rely on your community, and if you do not have one, seek one out. There are neighbors, religious organizations, therapists, medical resources, and friends to help manage daily tasks before, during and after treatment. One of the most difficult things for any person, no matter what the circumstance, is to ask for help. And one of the most surprising epiphanies is that most people, want to help. People enjoy feeling connected and useful. Most of us will not know someone needs help, unless they ask. There is a community out there, waiting at each person’s fingertips.

Article by Autumn Jensen, L.Ac., Dipl. O.M.