Chemotherapy and Acupuncture

Acupressure for Chemotherapy Related Nausea
By: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM

Sometimes a simple, non-invasive approach can help mitigate some challenging problems facing chemotherapy patients, as demonstrated by a study entitled “The Effects of P6 Acupressure in the Prophylaxis of Chemotherapy-related Nausea and Vomiting in Breast Cancer Patients.” This scientific study appeared in Complementary Therapeutic Medicine in March 2007.

Researchers studied if applying acupressure to a point near the wrist could reduce the occurrence and symptoms of nausea, vomiting and retching. Approximately 60 percent of all patients undergoing chemotherapy report complaints with these three issues, even with the use of antiemetic drugs. In order to complement the use of such drugs, researchers decided on a non-pharmacologic approach.

The study consisted of 36 participants, all breast cancer patients being treated with chemotherapy and the accompanying antiemetic medications. 17 subjects joined the experiment group and 19 others were assigned to be part of the control group. The control group did not receive any acupressure treatment.

The experiment group patients wore special wrist bands that stimulated the P6 acupuncture point for a total of five days in a row. Evaluations were done each day to discern the occurrence and experience of retching, vomiting and nausea. The experiment group experienced positive and clinically significant results.

Both the experience of nausea and retching, and the occurrence of nausea, retching and vomiting improved greatly for these patients in comparison to the control group. The vomiting experience improved to the point where researchers could conclude that the results in this category were ‘close to significant.’

The conclusion of the study revealed that acupressure at P6 is helpful, effective and poses no risk for patients suffering from the nauseating side effects of chemotherapy. Acupressure using wrist bands is simple and can easily be taught to patients by a qualified practitioner of acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

Source: Molassiotis, A., Helin, A. M., Dabbour, R., & Hummerston, S. (2007). The effects of P6 acupressure in the prophylaxis of chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting in breast cancer patients. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 15(1), 3–12. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2006.07.005

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About the Author: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM, studied at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and practiced acupuncture and Oriental medicine in New York for several years. Vanessa enjoys traveling the world, and has published articles on acupuncture and Oriental medicine and related health topics for websites and publications in both the U.S. and abroad.