Study of Electroacupuncture

for Nausea



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Acupuncture Q & A: This Month's Highlights from the "Ask an Acupuncturist" Forum www.acupuncturetoday.com

The "Ask an Acupuncturist" forum provides a place for interested parties to ask questions about acupuncture and Oriental medicine and have them answered by a licensed acupuncturist. This month's questions:

Question #1: Has acupuncture been used is the treatment of cancer and if so, is there a success rate?

Answer: In the U.S., the treatment of cancer by acupuncture is not allowed, but the symptoms caused by the cancer can be treated here with acupuncture. The only treatment that is allowed for cancer in the U.S. must legally be that which is provided by an MD, usually including the standard allopathic treatment.

In China, it is a different story. There, cancer is treated with acupuncture. There are clinics and hospitals devoted to treating cancer with acupuncture. All cancers are treatable, but success varies according to the type of cancer (and the patient); also the definition of "success." Success is not only the remission of the cancer, but also the prolongation of life despite the cancer, until death occurs due to another cause. For instance, esophageal cancer responds quite well to acupuncture treatment, but lung cancer does not.

Chinese herbal medicines are also used in the treatment of cancer, as are exercises such as chi kung and tai chi.

Electroacupuncture for Control of Myeloablative Chemotherapy–Induced Emesis

A Randomized Controlled Trial

Joannie Shen, MD, MPH; Neil Wenger, MD, MPH; John Glaspy, MD, MPH; Ron D. Hays, PhD; Paul S. Albert, PhD; Christina Choi, OMD; Paul G. Shekelle, MD, PhD

Context High-dose chemotherapy poses considerable challenges to emesis management. Although prior studies suggest that acupuncture may reduce nausea and emesis, it is unclear whether such benefit comes from the nonspecific effects of attention and clinician-patient interaction.

Objective To compare the effectiveness of electroacupuncture vs minimal needling and mock electrical stimulation or antiemetic medications alone in controlling emesis among patients undergoing a highly emetogenic chemotherapy regimen.

Design Three-arm, parallel-group, randomized controlled trial conducted from March 1996 to December 1997, with a 5-day study period and a 9-day follow-up.

Setting Oncology center at a university medical center.

Patients One hundred four women (mean age, 46 years) with high-risk breast cancer.

Interventions Patients were randomly assigned to receive low-frequency electroacupuncture at classic antiemetic acupuncture points once daily for 5 days (n = 37); minimal needling at control points with mock electrostimulation on the same schedule (n = 33); or no adjunct needling (n = 34). All patients received concurrent triple antiemetic pharmacotherapy and high-dose chemotherapy (cyclophosphamide, cisplatin, and carmustine).

Main Outcome Measures Total number of emesis episodes occurring during the 5-day study period and the proportion of emesis-free days, compared among the 3 groups.

Results The number of emesis episodes occurring during the 5 days was lower for patients receiving electroacupuncture compared with those receiving minimal needling or pharmacotherapy alone (median number of episodes, 5, 10, and 15, respectively; P<.001).

The electroacupuncture group had fewer episodes of emesis than the minimal needling group (P<.001), whereas the minimal needling group had fewer episodes of emesis than the antiemetic pharmacotherapy alone group (P = .01). The differences among groups were not significant during the 9-day follow-up period (P = .18).

Conclusions In this study of patients with breast cancer receiving high-dose chemotherapy, adjunct electroacupuncture was more effective in controlling emesis than minimal needling or antiemetic pharmacotherapy alone, although the observed effect had limited duration.

JAMA. 2000;284:2755-2761


Acupuncture Calms Nerves, Improves Heart Function

Am Heart Association Scientific Sessions, 2001 conference

University of Vermont Confirms Acupuncture

J Applied Physiology, 2/02

Acupuncture for Cancer Patients

Harefuah, 7/02

Can Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs Treat Cancer?
Acupuncture for Postchemo Fatigue
Acupuncture for Pts at Risk of Chemo Nausea (emesis) BENEFIT
Electro-Acupoint Stimulation v. Ondansetron v. Placebo
Infrared Imaging after Acupuncture for Cancer
Integrative Oncology w/Acupuncture
P6 Acupressure on Chemo Nausea/Vomiting
Acupuncture & Joint symptoms of Aromatase Inhibitors
Acupuncture for Chemo-brain?
Acupuncture Reduces Pain, Need for Opioids after Surgery
Relief of Cancer-related Breathlessness

Palliat Med, 4/96

Integration of Acupuncture into the Oncology Clinic

Palliat Med, 5/02

Growing Interest in CAM - Society for Integrative Oncology
Patient Perspectives on Outcomes After Acupuncture

J Altern Complement Md, 6/01

Acupuncture for Meno-symptoms w/Tamoxifen Use

Tumori, 3-4/02

Acupuncture for Xerostomia (Saliva Problem)

Cancer, 2/02

Acupuncture and Saliva Production seen on fMRI
Pediatric Pain & Acupuncture

Pediatrics, 4/00

Acupuncture & Pain
 acupuncture sensation correlates w EEGs & autonomic changes in human subjects

Autonomic Neuroscience, 3/07

Availability of Acupuncture in (Boston) Hospitals

Complement Thera in Med, 9/03

Adverse Effects During Acupuncture-Minimal

Complement Thera in Med, 6/03

Phase I-II Study Acupuncture-like Nerve Stim:Head/Neck Ca

Presented at Am Soc Thera Rad & Onc, 11/01 Canadian Assoc Rad Onc, 110/02

Acupuncture Today

LINK to site w/info for practitioners and patients newsletters are archived

Auricular Acupuncture & Acute Pain Syndromes: Pilot Study

No Am Res Conf on Complementary & Integrative Medicine, May, 2006

Acupuncture/Massage Improve Pt Satisfaction Post-op

No Am Res Conf on Complementary & Integrative Medicine, May, 2006

Ear Acupuncture Found to be Effective for Relieving Insomnia

J Altern Complement Med, 2007; 13(6): 669-76. August 2007

Acupuncture Abstracts SIO 2006

Various abstracts

SIO, 11/06

Randomized Controlled Trial for Acupuncture?

Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 5/06

"Acupressure for chemo-induced nausea & vomiting: a randomized clinical trial,"

Oncol Nurs Forum, 2007

Acupuncture & Anticancer Immunity via Natural Killer Cells

eCAM Advance Access published online on February 1, 2010 eCAM, doi:10.1093/ecam/nep236


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