Acupuncture and Acupressure for Nausea and Vomiting

29 April 2008


Collins KB, Thomas DJ. Acupuncture and acupressure for the management of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. J Am Acad Nurse Pract. 2004;16(2):76-80.

PURPOSE: To review existing research, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) consensus statement, and federal regulations regarding the use of acupuncture and acupressure in the management of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting in order to give nurse practitioners (NPs) the information they need to provide the best care for patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer. DATA SOURCES: Selected scientific literature and Internet sources.

CONCLUSIONS: Research supports the effectiveness of acupuncture and acupressure for the treatment of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Used in conjunction with current antiemetic drugs, acupuncture and acupressure have been shown to be safe and effective for relief of the nausea and vomiting resulting from chemotherapy.

IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: Even with the best antiemetic pharmacological agents, 60% of cancer patients continue to experience nausea and vomiting when undergoing chemotherapy treatments. Because the NIH supports the use of acupuncture for nausea and vomiting, the NP is obligated to be knowledgeable about the use of these and other effective complementary treatments in order to provide the best care.

Acupuncture & Breast surgery
Up to 70% of women who undergo major breast surgery suffer significant post-operative nausea and vomiting.

A study carried out at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina has compared the effect of electroacupuncture to ondansetron (Zofran), one of the most commonly used medications, on forty women undergoing major breast augmentations, reductions or mastectomies. A third of the women received acupuncture at Neiguan P-6 before their operation, a third were given ondansetron and the rest a placebo. Acupuncture was shown to be the most effective in treating nausea, with only 23% of those who were given acupuncture reporting nausea two hours after surgery (38% after 24 hours), compared to 36% who had taken the drug (57% after 24 hours) and 69% of those who had had the placebo (61% after 24 hours).

Acupuncture also appeared to reduce pain, with 31% of patients who received it reporting moderate to severe pain two hours after surgery, compared to 64% of those who took ondansetron and 77% of those given the placebo. The trial will continue with a total of 75 patients, at which point the results will be used as the basis of an application to the US National Institutes of Health for a larger clinical trial. (Annual Scientific Sessions of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, October 15th, 2001).

Categories: Acupuncture