Memorial Sloan Kettering: Acupuncture May Positively Affect Sleep for Breast Cancer Survivors with Hot Flash

Surviving a life-threatening disease is a great feat. While acupuncture is not best suited for life-threatening urgent conditions such as cancer and critical trauma, when correctly integrated and collaborated by skilled professionals of various expertise, it can be tremendously helpful with improving the quality of life.

Sleep studies show how vitally important sleep quality is to our health. There are many academics and research scientists who have opposing views on various health topics, but the importance of sleep is not one of them. One may even argue that perhaps some cases of cancer may have been avoided if individual optimized their lifestyle by eating a well-balanced diet, managed stress, and slept enough deep quality hours regularly.

Treatment for poor sleep in perimenopausal women and cancer survivors are similar. When women age naturally and hormone balances shifts, quality sleep can be difficult. Acupuncturists attempt to help offset this imbalance as patients adjust. In the case of cancer, young women who survive cancer or are in treatment also experience shifts in hormone balance as well as significant changes in other biological systems such as the immune system. Chemotherapy and radiation save lives, but unfortunately it also costs the patients their good cells since the therapy does not currently differentiate cancer cells vs. normal cells.

In eastern medicine, this loss manifests similarly to those who are approaching menopause. Loss of 'jing' and 'yin' which are life substances or essences (blood, bodily fluids, hormones), can result in hot flashes. 'Jing' and 'yin' are thought to be like water in eastern medical philosophy. Therefore, lack of it cause patients to feel heat, thirst, dryness, irritability, have night sweats and experience dizziness.