1. Health
Lynne Eldridge MD

Acupuncture to Decrease Nausea from Chemotherapy

By March 15, 2012

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Even as a little kid I dreaded the symptom of nausea. Staying home from school with a cold was fun. But to have the stomach flu -- and deal with nausea and vomiting -- that wasn't my cup of tea. It was a waste of a perfectly good day of escape from school.

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So when I was told I would need chemotherapy, you can imagine my first thoughts. And I don't think I'm alone. How am I going to cope with the nausea and vomiting???

I don't know if it was acupuncture that made the difference, or the host of other things we tried to diminish the symptoms (including 4 medications to prevent nausea with each dose.) But it worked. I didn't have a little nausea. I had no nausea. Absolutely none. My oncologist was pleasantly surprised. She was even open to the thought that acupuncture may have helped, as another patient of hers experienced a similar relief with acupuncture.

Of course, reporting about the effects a treatment has on one or two people is hardly scientific. To know if something does indeed help it requires several large clinical trials. Thankfully a few of those trials have also found that acupuncture may reduce the nausea from chemotherapy.

I was lucky enough to have a friend who came to my home to do acupuncture, yet many cancer centers are now offering acupuncture as an integrative treatment for people with cancer. If yours doesn't, and your oncologist thinks it may be safe and effective for you, she may be able to recommend an acupuncturist in your community.

Acupuncture may have other benefits for people with cancer. Check out this article:

Sources:

National Cancer Institute. Health Professional Version. Acupuncture (PDQ). Updated 01/11/12. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/acupuncture/patient/page1

National Institute of Health. Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Acupuncture. Updated /1/18/12. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/acupuncture/introduction.htm

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