Acupuncture To Relieve Chemo-Induced Nausea and Vomiting


Acupuncture is considered a complementary medical practice, and is commonly used by patients undergoing chemotherapy to relieve themselves of side effects such as nausea and vomiting. The result of acupuncture on chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting has been studied for two decades, and clinical evidence gathered has been positive.

Acupuncture dates back more than 4000 years. Based upon conventional Chinese medical philosophy, acupuncture points are located on meridians through which gi vital energy flows. At this point in time there is scientific no proof that these meridians or acupuncture points exist. However, many say acupuncture has helped them with many different conditions, which for some may be more persuasive than what science says.  It is commonly thought that acupuncture works mainly on the nervous system.

Acupuncture generally involves several weekly or biweekly appointments (about 30 minutes long), which typically run 12 sessions at a time. When you first meet an acupuncturist, they will review and assess your condition and if you are a strong candidate you may have your first treatment.  A visit to an acupuncturist will involve an exam and an assessment of the patient’s condition, the insertion of needles, and advice on self-care. Most sessions last about 30 minutes.

The patient will be laid in a position optimal for inserting the single-use disposable sterile needles. The needles are 0.18 to 0.51 mm in diameter. The insertion is somewhat painless, but will be felt and once they reach a certain depth he patient will likely experience an aching feeling, The needles stay in for 20 minutes and may be heated as well.

According to an article on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) website: In 1997,

“’promising results have emerged … showing efficacy of acupuncture in adult postoperative and chemotherapy nausea and vomiting.’ This statement was based on 33 controlled trials, of which 27 showed positive results in favor of acupuncture, electroacupuncture, or acupressure at acupuncture point P6.”

“The NIH updates that statement to say “However, none of these trials were done in conjunction with modern antiemetics, such as the 5-hydroxytryptamine-3 (5-HT3) receptor antagonists (ondansetron, granisetron, dolasetron, and palonosetron) approved by the US Food and Drug Administration between 1991 and 2003.”

To read the full study, click here.

Any treatment that a sarcoma patient chooses to undergo is truly personal. If you are experiencing chemo-induced nausea and vomiting talk to you doctor and see if they think acupuncture is something you may be able to benefit from. Tell us, has anyone in our community had personal experience with this? What can you share? Feel free to leave a comment.

Please note this is not intended as medical advice and should not be relied upon as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health professional.


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