Cancer causes many adverse complications, including constant pain. A study published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine looked into the viability of using acupuncture to soothe this pain and cause relief to cancer patients.
Although cancers are named after the body part where the tumor – or tumors, in some cases – is located, its effects can be felt in other parts of the body. In the case of bone and testicular cancers, pain is one of the first signs. In others, such as pancreatic cancer, discomfort may be a sign that the disease has progressed or metastasized.
Acupuncture is an ancient treatment method based on the Chinese principle of qi. It is grounded on the belief that an imbalance in the flow of qi can result in illnesses and that the application of needles in specific areas of the body – called acupoints – can restore harmony and balance and treat bodily conditions.
Today, acupuncture remains a popular alternative treatment approach, especially among those who do not want toxic chemicals – disguised as medications – in their body. It is especially popular among patients who seek relief from pain.
The authors of the study wanted to know if acupuncture’s pain relieving properties extended to cancer patients. In a single-blind, randomized controlled pilot trial, they recruited 42 patients going through moderate to severe cancer pain. The participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups. Each group had 14 members.
The first group had acupuncture at the acupoints si guan xue, while the second group combined si guan xue with commonly used acupoints. The third group served as the control and was treated only on the most frequently used acupoints. (Related: Acupuncture significantly reduces pain following C-section: Research.)
They examined primary and secondary outcomes. Primary outcomes included relief from cancer pain and the patients’ subjective experience as expressed using the Patient Global Impression of Change (PGIC). Secondary outcomes included quality of life measured through scores in the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire-Core 30 (EORTC QLQ-C30) and Karnofsky’s Performance Status (KPS).
The researchers’ analysis showed that the second group experienced the most cancer pain reduction at around day five. This was compared to the control group. Scores in the PGIC, EORTC QLQ-C30, or KPS did not indicate much variance among the three groups.
They concluded that acupuncture at the si guan xue, combined with commonly used acupoints, was the most effective at treating pain caused by cancer. However, a larger study needed to be performed owing to the small sample size employed by the present study.
Natural methods of relieving cancer pain
To treat the pain brought about by cancer, one can turn to nature. The following herbs have been proven capable of treating cancer pain:
- Turmeric – This spice contains curcumin, a compound known for its anti-inflammatory benefits and antioxidant effects. Some studies even indicate that it may have anti-cancer properties, too. Among its most prominent effects is the reduction of pain, making it a safer alternative to Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) that are known to cause a wide variety of side effects.
- Papain – This is an enzyme that comes from papaya fruits. It has anti-cancer properties and is great for boosting the immune system. Papain comes in many forms, including supplements. It can be used as an ointment for relief from common discomforts like burns, bed sores, and surgical wounds. One needs to be wary though as papain supplements can cause stomach discomfort in high doses and the ointment may cause a mild burning sensation.
- Ginger – This vegetable not only treats nausea, it can also address inflammation and reduce pain. It reduced inflammatory prostaglandin in the body, making it ideal for those who suffer from the side effects of chemotherapy.
Learn of other natural treatments at Remedies.news.