With 2.3 million acupuncture treatments carried out each year, acupuncture is one of the most popular forms of complementary therapy practised in the UK today. The health benefits of the treatment make it extremely helpful in dealing with symptoms of breast cancer and chemotherapy. 

We spoke to Chris Woodward, acupuncturist, about the therapy and just why it’s so beneficial for people going through breast cancer. 

How does acupuncture work? 

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medical process, so it’s very established and reputed as a complementary therapy. It can support health and wellbeing, reduce stress and physical and emotional symptoms, making it especially beneficial for people experiencing breast cancer. 

Acupuncture involves the painless insertion of a small number of very fine pins into ‘acupuncture points’ in the body. There’s no discomfort, the stimulation of these specific points is deeply relaxing. 

Experiencing acupuncture is like a gentle sleep where your awareness remains. It’s an unusual physiological and psychological state that gives your breast cancer symptoms time to process and resolve. This is why it’s so useful for people that are going through chemotherapy and radiotherapy.  

After acupuncture, people tell me that ”something’s changed. I feel clearer and lighter.” The state of relaxation continues after treatment and it’s fantastic how quickly people begin to feel the difference. It is best to have a course of four to six acupuncture treatments 

The benefits of acupuncture go beyond breast cancer treatment. During recovery when normal life begins to resume, continuing with a course of acupuncture helps to restore disrupted sleep patterns. Digestion, energy levels and anxiety are also improved through acupuncture therapy. 

Once you’ve experienced it, it’s easy to see the positive effects  

I think for many people it’s difficult to get your head around how the acupuncture process works – making the connection between inserting fine needles and the health benefits of the therapy. Once you’ve accepted this and experienced acupuncture, it’s easy to see its positive effects and why the treatment has been valued for so long. 

I would strongly encourage everyone to try acupuncture if they can. It’s so useful for combatting the different stresses that we encounter every day throughout life, especially during an experience as exhausting as breast cancer. Helping ourselves by taking the time to relax and relieve unpleasant symptoms is such a pleasurable and wise thing to do. The British Acupuncture Council hold a list of trained acupuncturists in the UK. 

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