Chemo-Induced Nausea Study

Effect of Acupuncture on Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea and Vomiting

According to the National Cancer Institute, of all the investigated effects of acupuncture on cancer-related or chemotherapy-related symptoms and disorders, the positive effect of acupuncture on chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting is the most convincing.

Numerous studies have consistently shown acupuncture to be effective in the treatment of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting as well as as postoperative and morning sickness nausea and vomiting.

A randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial investigated the effect of electro-acupuncture on chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting in 104 patients with breast cancer who were undergoing a highly emetogenic (causes vomiting) chemotherapy regimen. The patients were randomly assigned to receive low-frequency electro-acupuncture at classic acupuncture points for nausea and vomiting once daily for 5 days, minimal needling at control points with mock electro-acupuncture on the same schedule, or no adjunct needling. All patients received concurrent antiemetic drugs (prochlorperazine, lorazepam, and diphenhydramine) and high-dose chemotherapy (cyclophosphamide, cisplatin, and carmustine).

The main outcome measures were the total number of emesis (vomiting) episodes and the proportion of emesis-free days occurring during the 5-day study period. The data revealed significantly fewer emesis episodes in the electro-acupuncture treatment group compared with those in the minimal needling and drug-only control groups.

Source: Shen J, Wenger N, Glaspy J, et al.: Electroacupuncture for control of myeloablative chemotherapy-induced emesis: A randomized controlled trial. JAMA 284 (21): 2755-61, 2000.

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