The Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center is known throughout the world for its innovative and often revolutionary cancer treatments. What may be surprising is that members of the Mass General team are supplementing their biomedical cancer treatments with a therapy so ancient that it predates recorded history. The therapy? Acupuncture.
Unlike biomedicine, with acupuncture we can come up with special point prescriptions that we can customize.
Acupuncture’s premise is that energy (chi) flows through a person’s body over 12 channels and 365 specific points. When one’s chi is disrupted or blocked, problems (such as pain) ensue. By inserting thin needles into the affected points, a trained acupuncturist can restructure and rebalance the blocked chi. This ancient Chinese “medicine” has shown worthwhile effects on cancer patients.
“Unlike biomedicine, with acupuncture we can come up with special point prescriptions that we can customize,” says Jessica Gerber, LIC.AC., an acupuncturist who works with the hospital’s Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program. “The beauty of being able to customize the medicine is that you can really get to the root of what people want help with.” With cancer patients, that could mean a reduction in radiation site pain (especially for breast cancer patients), post-surgical pain and the nausea that often accompanies chemotherapy.
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