Acupressure can treat side effects caused by conventional breast cancer treatments

Conventional breast cancer treatments come with side effects, such as anxiety, chronic pain, depression, fatigue, and poor sleep. For people suffering from these side effects, researchers from the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center recommend acupressure, a healing technique that involves applying pressure usually with the fingertips to specific points in the body. The researchers found that this type of traditional Chinese medicine can reduce anxiety, pain, and symptoms of depression in breast cancer survivors experiencing fatigue more effectively than standard care.

Published in the journal JNCI Cancer Spectrum, the study looked at the potential of acupressure in relieving the side effects of conventional breast cancer treatments. The researchers compared acupressure’s effects to those of standard care.

For the study, the researchers recruited 288 breast cancer survivors who reported fatigue and at least one other symptom. They then randomly divided the participants into three groups: Two treatment groups and a control group. Those in the treatment groups received one of two types of acupressure – relaxing acupressure, which is traditionally used to address insomnia, and stimulating acupressure, which is used to boost energy. They were taught how to find and stimulate the acupressure points so that they could do it at home once a day for six weeks. On the other hand, participants in the control group received conventional treatment. The researchers asked the participants about their fatigue, sleep quality, depressive symptoms, anxiety, and pain every week.

After six weeks, the researchers found that both relaxing acupressure and stimulating acupressure significantly improved anxiety, the severity of pain, and pain interfering with daily life. Acupressure also performed better than standard care in terms of improving depressive symptoms and sleep quality. These results suggested that, for fatigue and depression, acupressure is more effective, while for anxiety and pain, either standard care or acupressure will do. (Related: Acupressure points that can alleviate nervousness and anxiety.)

The researchers also examined whether or not improving one symptom helped treat the other symptoms. They found that addressing symptoms of depression improved sleep quality, and this accounted for nearly 20 percent of the improvement in fatigue.

The researchers concluded that acupressure is good for relieving the side effects of conventional cancer treatments. Breast cancer survivors can do it at home, as the study showed, provided that they learn how to apply the right pressure to the right acupoints. Acupressure also has minimal side effects, and bruising was the only outcome reported by some of the participants.

Natural remedies for the side effects of conventional cancer treatment

Aside from acupressure, there are other natural ways to relieve the side effects of conventional cancer treatments like chemotherapy. Chemotherapy typically causes nausea, mouth sores (oral mucositis), and nerve problems, such as pain, numbness, tingling, and fatigue.

Nausea: Some studies have shown that ginger effectively relieves nausea in people undergoing chemotherapy. Taking ginger extracts or inhaling ginger essential oil may help reduce nausea.

Mouth sores: Natural remedies for mouth sores include honey, topical application of vitamin E, and oral cryotherapy. Research shows that honey can slow the onset of mouth sores while vitamin E, when applied inside the mouth, may decrease the severity of mouth sores. Oral cryotherapy, which involves cooling the mouth with something cold such as ice, ice-cold water, ice cream, or popsicles, can reduce mouth sores. This is because the cold temperature narrows blood vessels and reduces blood flow to the mouth, which, in turn, reduces the amount of drugs that reach the mouth.

Nerve damage: Chemotherapy affects the nerves, causing fatigue, numbness, pain, and tingling. Weekly acupuncture can reduce these side effects. It is also well-tolerated by patients, according to studies.

Learn more about acupressure and other healing techniques at

Sources include:

comments powered by Disqus