By Josh Zimmer, Licensed Acupuncturist at Four Pillars
It’s hard to feel healthy when appetite is low and the food that does make it to one’s stomach causes nausea. But those are two very common symptoms that cancer patients experience while they’re undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiation treatments. Sometimes they linger even after sessions come to a close, further impeding recovery.
As more of the cancer community turns to acupuncture, a primary focus can be improved digestion. A well-functioning digestive system is critical for everyone, and cancer patients are left with a lot of catching up to do.
Modern research highlights the role of diet and nutrient absorption in supporting general vitality, mental focus and immunity. Traditional Chinese Medicine is no different. For millennia, In fact, practitioners have emphasized those very same issues. Only we call it strengthening Qi and nourishing Blood. In cases of poor appetite and nausea, we’re going to target the Spleen and Stomach channels, using points that re-regulate Qi flow in those areas of the body. From a modern physiological standpoint, the Spleen’s role mirrors the blood sugar-balancing, enzymatic and anti-inflammatory actions of the Liver, Pancreas and Small Intestine.
The Spleen is in charge of absorption and transportation of nutrients after food and drink have been “rottened and ripened” by the Stomach. Specific acupuncture points, mostly on the abdomen and leg, stimulate healthy function, such as appetite. Desire to eat is one telltale sign of a happy digestive system.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Spleen also governs taste, which in many cancer patients is damaged or destroyed. It’s yet another way that acupuncture treatments, especially when complemented by Chinese herbal formulas, can help.
But nausea doesn’t make it easier to look at a plate of food, does it? Acupuncture to the rescue! When what is supposed to go down instead flows upward, we see opportunity. For us, nausea is a basic case of Qi reversal, or “counterflow.” Gently needled acupuncture points, mostly located above the bellybutton and near the wrist, help restore the downward flow of Qi so that food enters the Spleen (Small Intestine) instead of running back up the esophagus.
A peaceful digestive system eludes many cancer patients just when they need one most. Nausea and poor appetite are two of the biggest obstacles, yet they’re ones that acupuncture can help overcome – without often debilitating drugs. And because a healthy digestive system does so many things, patients often experience better sense of taste, more saliva, greater energy, normal bowel movements and improved mental focus.
Dr. Josh Zimmer, AP, DOM, is a Florida-licensed acupuncturist, providing a wide range of holistic services to promote natural healing at Four Pillars, a wellness spa in Lakewood Ranch. His sessions often combine acupuncture with cupping, warming moxibustion, electro-stimulation,Tuina acupressure massage, herbal prescriptions and gentle Gua Sha. He is also nationally-certified in performing B-12 and homeopathic injections for low-energy, pain and inflammation conditions. For more information, call 941-373-3955 or visit FourPillarsFlorida.com.