Breast cancer treatment can come with unpleasant side effects for approximately 80% of women. Hot flashes and night sweats are uncomfortable and regrettably very common.  Unfortunately women with breast cancer are not candidates for certain types of hormone replacement therapies that could potentially stop their uncomfortable symptoms. Doctors instead may have traditionally offered up antidepressant types of medications to their breast cancer patients  that also can trigger side effects that are not only unpleasant, but could also cause additional health problems such as weight gain, nausea, sexual difficulties, and fatigue.

Hope for breast cancer patients may come by way of Acupuncture treatments, an alternative therapy that was studied by researchers and found to be as effective as conventional medications to ease the problematic symptoms experienced by women going through breast cancer treatment.

relieve-breast-cancer-treatment-discomfort Eleanor Walker, study author,  in the department of radiation oncology and Director of  Breast Services at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan, a Michigan Hospital, says that “Acupuncture is better than drugs for hot flashes because it is actually beneficial to patients. It improves patients’ quality of life, giving them increased energy and even increasing sex drive in some.”  

Another potential benefit from the Acupuncture treatments on women in the study was the reduction of what is sometimes referred to as “chemo brain” and thus improved clarity in thinking for the participants receiving acupuncture treatment.

Acupuncture is thought to work by alleviating the vasomotor symptoms which can cause patients receiving breast cancer treatment to overheat. When the nerves and muscles in the body cause blood vessels to dilate, the skin releases heat and hot flashes or vasomotor type symptoms occur. Acupuncture was found to reduce symptoms in women in the study group for longer periods of time than women taking the commonly prescribed antidepressant, Effexor.

So before your doctor reaches for a prescription pad if you are seeking help for something to help with the side effects from medications that you or a loved one is taking for breast cancer treatment, you may want to ask your physician about first trying an alternative like acupuncture before taking an antidepressant.