Thursday, February 10, 2011

What do you know about acupuncture?

I don’t know all the inner workings of acupuncture.   However I do understand the basic principles that it works on.  As most of us know acupuncture was first practiced in China and has been practiced there for thousands of years.  Acupuncturists believe there are meridians or channels that run up and down the body in which our vital energy flows.  This is not unlike how blood flows through series of blood vessels.  The vital energy is not blood and the meridians are not blood vessels but the concepts are similar.  Stuff, be it blood or energy, flows throughout the body.  When the energy flow is disrupted an imbalance is created and sickness occurs.  The purpose of acupuncture is to repair the disrupted flow and bring balance (and therefore health) back to the body.  To accomplish this, the acupuncturist uses a series of needles that are placed into the body, specifically the meridians, to restore the proper flow of energy.  When going through my cancer treatments I had acupuncture done to me to help relieve some of the side effects.  Do you think it was able to help me?  Can acupuncture help others that have to go through these treatments for cancer?

Cancer treatments like Chemotherapy and Radiation are designed to get rid of cancer cells, or at least keep them in check.  The problem is they don’t distinguish the healthy cells from the cancer cells.  So you lose plenty of the healthy cells too.  Once you start losing a significant amount of healthy cells you can start to see and feel the side effects of the treatments.  You can experience a wide range of side effects, anything from hair and appetite loss to weakness and fatigue.  The list goes on and on because your body is made of healthy cells.  Think of damaging or taking blocks of them away.  Let’s compare it to a decaying house.  Parts of the house start getting worse while others are standing strong, but eventually, if not attended to, the decay will take over and the house will fall down.  Once these cells start getting damaged the vital energy flow in your body is getting disrupted too.  There are many ways to minimize and relieve these side effects, with varying degrees of success.   Dana suggested I try acupuncture.  She used it in the past and had a positive experience.

I was lucky to find an acupuncturist that worked close by.  He has a place in the next city over from where I live.  It was only about a five minute drive.  Although he was not the acupuncturist that Dana used, he did have a great recommendation from a friend.  He is so busy that at the time he didn’t even take new patients without a recommendation.  Later he told us he can work twelve hours a day and still have people waiting.  He has three single patient rooms that he rotates between.  He pops in and out of the rooms constantly working on people.  He was born in China, so acupuncture has always been part of his culture and life.  He has been working for many years (twenty or more) as an acupuncturist.  However, he still goes to China every few years to continue his study.  He is as reputable as they come.

Every appointment I had with our acupuncturist was similar.  He always wanted me to bring my blood test results and would look them over before he treated me.  He also asked a series of questions which related to my general mental and physical health, energy and attitude.  Then he would pull the lower eyelid down and look at the blood vessels in my eye.  After that he knew how he would treat me for that day.  I can’t pretend to know how he made his decisions about treatment but I do know he had a very specific method.  He would assure us that the acupuncture would help.  He once told us that in China if someone has cancer and has to go through chemotherapy and radiation that it would be standard for them to also use acupuncture to help relieve the side effects.

I had seven weeks of radiation therapy with three chemotherapy sessions scattered throughout.  The main treatment for getting rid of the tumors was the radiation.  The chemo was supposed to enhance the effectiveness of the radiation and pickup any spare cancer cells that may have started spreading in regions beyond my neck.  I started the acupuncture close to the second of my three chemotherapy sessions.  The chemotherapy sessions were very intense so I would have one then I would wait for three to four weeks to have another one.  After my first session my white blood cells dropped so low that I couldn’t have my second one three or even four weeks later.  At this point I was in danger of not having enough time to fit my third treatment in.  Then came the acupuncture, not only did I fit my third chemotherapy session in, but I actually did it a week earlier than planned.  Usually toward the end of treatment your body would have more trouble generating enough white blood cells to have another chemotherapy session.  I also have to add that the doctor who was in charge of my radiation therapy said that he had never seen anyone handle it as well as I did.  He even called me superman.  Of course it’s not like I had an easy time with these treatments, I just find it curious that toward the end of my treatments I seemed to be doing better than most people expected me to be.  I can attribute that to my acupuncture.

The effectiveness of the acupuncture is a hard thing to measure.  I’ve never gone through cancer treatments without it to compare.  However, I believe that the acupuncture did help my body heal quicker and help me recuperate in enough time to fit in all of my cancer treatments.  I continued to use acupuncture for several months after my cancer treatments ended.  It helped my body restore it’s vitality in a quicker fashion that it would have without the acupuncture.

Who else out there has used acupuncture?  What did you use it for?  Do you think it had any effects on you?


  1. I think we as a society need to know how or why something works and acupuncture isn't easily understood. It works on so many levels. It's not an easy fix like a pill but if given the time needed it works!
    I look at this picture and see a very tired & swollen you. After your session you were so peaceful. It seemed to be the only time that you got that peace during the crazy cycle of treatments, side effects, & drug induced sleep.
    If for nothing else I'm grateful for that but we know what it did for your counts. Thank God for that! Dr. Ming is quite the little ball of energy & knowledge.


  2. Well said Dana. I too am grateful.

  3. I've heard wonderful things about acupuncture...something that has been around for so many years has to be good...right!? I suffer from migraines and have been told to try acupuncture, (I haven't yet, but that's a topic for another blog)...we as a western culture need to open our hearts and minds to new things. Just because something isn't "black" or "white" or doesn't fit into our little "box" doesn't mean it won't work! If we don't try new things, we'll never have the remote possibility of reaching new heights in this life...such as peace. I'm so happy acupuncture worked for you John. The world is definitely a better place because you're in it...thanks again for sharing...I truly enjoy it.

  4. Once again, well said Maggi.

    I agree there is a time we need to open our hearts and minds to new things. One of Western Society's greatest assets is its curious mind and the need to prove and understand everything. Unfortunately, sometimes that makes us late to the party!! Sometimes a little 'faith' in the hard to understand will go a long way in helping us understand it.

    Find an acupuncturist for those migraines. I'm sure they would be able to help.