How effective is Acupuncture in Cancer Care?

Acupuncture is a crucial part of Traditional Chinese Medicine and involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points in the body called “Acupoints.” According to ancient beliefs, this ancient technique helps regulate the flow of “good energy” or “Qi” throughout the body, and any disruption in the flow of “Qi” can cause diseases.

However, the real question is: can Acupuncture assist with cancer cure?

Although many can be dismissive of Acupuncture and term it as “quackery”, the truth is far from it.

As modern medicine has progressed through the years, more and more research has been carried out to evaluate Acupuncture and its effectiveness in cancer therapy. Randomized clinical trials (RCT) have shown that Acupuncture is a safe and effective form of adjunct therapy that assists with cancer cure. Studies have shown that Acupuncture helps reduce chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Additionally, Acupuncture was also found to be highly effective at managing cancer-related pain, chemotherapy-induced neutropenia, radiation-related xerostomia, and cancer fatigue.

In several animal models, stimulation of Acupuncture points via Acupuncture or other stimulation methods has exhibited down-regulation in the expression of TGF (Transforming Growth Factor). In fact, two independent study models that investigated renal failure and liver fibrosis found that Acupuncture inhibited the expression of TGF-β1 in rats. TGF-β1 is a multifunctional cytokine (cell-signaling molecule) that can function as a tumor-promoter by enhancing malignant cell proliferation, migratory invasion, and metastasis, and suppressing the immune system to invade cancer cells.

A few studies investigating animal (rat) models also suggest that Acupuncture can positively enhance the production of G-CSF (Granulocyte Colony Stimulating Factor) and GM-CSF (Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony Stimulating Factor) after treating the rats with chemotherapy. G-CSF, an immune-modulatory cytokine and myeloid growth factor assist bone marrow to produce more white blood cells. GM-CSF is also another immune-modulatory cytokine (myeloid growth factor) that promotes differentiation and maturation of myeloid cells (a type of stem cell in the bone marrow) into Granulocytes (Eosinophils, Neutrophils, Basophils) and Monocytes, essential for protective defense mechanisms within the body.

In one clinical trial, seven patients undergoing chemotherapy were treated with nine daily Acupuncture treatments. As a result, there was a significant increase in the total count of White blood cells and serum levels of G-CSF after the acupuncture treatments.

Therefore, it is evident that Acupuncture has a positive immune-modulatory effect on the body and can strengthen the efficacy of cancer treatments. Data from human neuro-imaging via FMRI (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging), Positron Imaging Tomography (PET), and Electroencephalography (EEG) also suggest that acupuncture is capable of moderating a wide network of brain regions that are related to reducing cancer-related pain. Hence, Acupuncture not only supports the healing process but also helps manage the chronic pain associated with cancer.

If you or anyone you know have been battling cancer, or undergoing cancer treatments, please contact The Functional Medicine Center for Personalized Care, LLC ( at 201-880-8247 or Specialized Therapy Associates at 201-488-6678 for our Integrative Mind-Body Health services. Our Integrative Mind-Body Health services incorporate Acupuncture, Functional Nutrition, IV Nutrition, Health Coaching, Exercise, Yoga, and Mind-Body Psychotherapy to support holistic healing and recovery.


Ishtiak Ahmed Chowdhury



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