Acupuncture and breast cancer 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. At Breast Cancer Haven, acupuncture is offered to visitors as part of a fully personalised programme of breast cancer support. We spoke to Chris Woodward, acupuncture expert and therapist at Breast Cancer Haven in London, all 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. Acupuncture at Breast Cancer Haven It’s no surprise that acupuncture is a popular therapy at Breast Cancer Haven. We offer free one to one acupuncture sessions that are tailored to each person’s needs at their stage of breast cancer treatment (and after treatment). Every session is tailor-made so that we focus on just the right spots and give the maximum relief to the individual. Sessions are an hour long, which is plenty of time to deeply relax. We always hear back from our visitors the following day, who 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. Typically we offer four acupuncture sessions to our visitors. 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. Find out more about acupuncture. If you are affected by breast cancer, contact your local Breast Cancer Haven centre to book yourself in for a free acupuncture session.