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Study: Doctors turning to ancient therapy to help relieve cancer patients’ pain

Breast cancer mammogram

BALTIMORE (CNN) – Acupuncture has been practiced in China for thousands of years. Now, research shows it may help cancer patients.

Researchers say the practice can reduce nausea and vomiting after chemotherapy and it can also relieve pain.

When Tito Ariyo was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer, her doctors put her on a treatment that caused her to have some serious side effects.

Ariyo said, “I had joint pain, my knees and my ankles and my entire body just hurt.”

Her physicians recommended she take part in a trial study that looked at acupuncture as a way to relieve some of her pain.

She says it worked for her.

She said, “I was sleeping better and also the pain reduced.”

Experts say more than 60 percent of women with early stage breast cancer suffer from hot flashes, joint and muscle pain and depression.

Researchers thought if acupuncture could help patients with their discomfort, it could eventually be used as therapy.

They learned patients felt relief if they were treated with acupuncture or sham acupuncture, which involves retractable needles not placed in pressure points. 

Dr. Ting Bao, with the University of Maryland, said, “Our trial definitely shows there are minimum side effects, and this can potentially help them have significant symptom improvement, both in musculoskeletal symptoms and also hot flashes.” 

Dr. Bao believes the pricks from the needles may stimulate the body, which can relieve pain.