Acupuncture for Chemotherapy Side Effects: An In-Depth Look


While it’s not the most common of remedies, acupuncture for chemotherapy side effects is worth considering. Chemotherapy drugs can be save lives, but they can also have very difficult side effects that can have quite an impact on the quality of the life of the patient.


That’s where acupuncture comes in. Acupuncture itself is generally low-risk, and it can help ease the burden of the side effects of chemotherapy.


chemotherapy side effects
Photo by Ken Treloar/


Chemotherapy side effects: An overview

Cancer cells spread quickly, which is one of the things that make them so dangerous. When cancer spreads, it becomes more difficult to treat. Chemotherapy drugs, therefore, need to be powerful enough to kill these fast-growing cells. However, chemo drugs can also affect fast-growing but healthy cells as well.


The damage to healthy cells can cause chemotherapy’s side effects. The cells found in your your hair follicles, mouth, digestive system, and bone marrow are the most prone to the ravages of chemo drugs. There’s also a chance that the chemo drugs can reduce your white blood cells, which can make you more prone to contracting infections.


There are certain medications that can be taken along with chemo drugs to reduce the effects of these side effects, but acupuncture can also be effective and helpful.



Common chemotherapy side effects

In films and TV shows, chemotherapy patients are often depicted to be losing their hair, losing their strength, and generally just very ill. While this depiction can be accurate in many cases, it’s a little too much for other cases. Some patients experience many side effects, some patients experience only a few, and some experience almost none at all.


Side effects can also differ. Hair loss may be one of the more well-known side effects, but not every patient undergoing chemo loses their hair. However, they may develop other side effects such as anemia, extreme weight gain or loss, and nerve and muscle issues.


Patients may also experience side effects such as dry or discolored skin, as well brittle or flaky nails. Other than that, there’s also the possibility of experiencing problems with the kidneys and urination, as well as the patient’s hearing.


If you are experiencing bleeding and bruising, make sure to immediately report it to your doctor. It may also be inadvisable for you to undergo acupuncture while you are going through bleeding and bruising.


Learn more about how cancer itself affects the body, and how acupuncture can help.



Side effects that can be relieved by acupuncture


A near-constant feeling of tiredness and weakness can also result from chemo drugs, though it can also be an effect of the cancer itself.


Digestive issues

Healthy cells in the digestive tract are also some of the more common types of cells that get caught in the chemo drug net. Thus, you may experience vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and constipation as a result.


There are also medications that can help you deal with digestive problems that may arise from chemo drugs. However, there’s a chance that these medications may not work, and they may have side effects as well. In this case, acupuncture can be a good complement for this kind of treatment regimen.


Fertility issues

Some chemotherapy drugs have been found to be able to negatively impact a patient’s fertility, temporarily or even permanently. It’s therefore important to discuss all the known possible effects of chemotherapy drugs with your doctor as well as your partner.


Other than fertility, chemo drugs can also affect a patient’s libido.



How acupuncture can help

chemotherapy side effects
Find a natural remedy for chemotherapy side effects. Photo by David Cohen/


Acupuncture can be a good complement to chemotherapy and other cancer treatments. However, it’s important to remember that acupuncture works best as a complementary treatment, not as an alternative to chemotherapy. While some of the effects of chemotherapy drugs can seem quite devastating, the drugs are vital to beating cancer. Acupuncture does not offer a cure to cancer, but it does offer relief and reprieve from the side effects of chemo drugs.


The Santa Barbara Herb Clinic can help you get back on your feet with the use of acupuncture. Tram Pham, our owner and Licensed Acupuncturist, has years of experience providing all-natural and holistic care for those who seek it. She also has a Master’s Degree in Chinese Medicine from Yo San University.



Acupuncture basics

According to traditional Chinese medicine, we all have an energy force called qi (pronounced “chee”) flowing through our body. When the qi is blocked or isn’t flowing through the body properly, it can lead to illnesses and pain. Acupuncture can help restore the flow of qi and restore the body’s good health.


Modern science has found that acupuncture does indeed have medical benefits, though researchers have not yet fully explored these benefits. We still have much to learn about the scientific workings of acupuncture, but the practice does have thousands of years of history behind it.


Acupuncture entails the insertion of fine needles into your skin at specific acupuncture points. These needles stimulate the acupuncture points, which results in the restoration of the balance of qi.


Before you make an appointment

While acupuncture has few side effects, you should still consult with your doctor if you intend to undergo acupuncture for chemotherapy side effects. Acupuncture can function quite well as an effective complementary treatment for Western medicine, but ensuring that they work well together does take some effort.


When you decide to book an appointment with the Santa Barbara Herb Clinic, having your full medical and drug history ready will be essential. For acupuncture to be able to work well with your chemotherapy, your acupuncturist should be able to take your medical history into account when planning your treatment.



The benefits of acupuncture

Acupuncture can help with those experiencing some of the more common side effects of chemotherapy. If you’ve been experiencing fatigue, hot flashes, nausea, vomiting, and pain due to chemotherapy drugs, acupuncture can help relieve these side effects. The treatment can also help you feel generally better when you haven’t been feeling all that good due to the chemo drugs. There is also the possibility that acupuncture can help with regrowing hair that’s been lost in the course of chemotherapy.


If you’ve been looking for a natural, low-risk way to help you deal with chemotherapy-related symptoms, acupuncture for chemotherapy side effects can be effective. Medications that treat the side effects of chemo drugs can have side effects themselves. With acupuncture, you’ll be reducing the risks of experiencing more negative symptoms.


acupuncture in Santa Barbara


Acupuncture at the Santa Barbara Herb Clinic

The Santa Barbara Herb Clinic was founded in 1986 by Dr. Jean Yu. Tram took over the clinic in 2016 some time after the tragic and untimely death of Dr. Henry Han, who bought the clinic in 1991. With the reopening of the clinic, Santa Barbara residents were able to once again enjoy the benefits of traditional Chinese medicine.


Making an appointment with the Santa Barbara Herb Clinic is easy. You can just call us at 805-563-0222 or email us at We are open from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5:30pm. If you’re not within driving distance but would still like a consultation, you can speak to Tram via phone or video call.


Get on the road to recovery with the Santa Barbara Herb Clinic!