For Cancer Patients

Acupuncture has been shown to be a  useful complementary therapy for relieving some of the symptoms related to cancer and to the side effects of radiation and chemotherapy.

Nausea and vomiting

The strongest scientific evidence of the effect of acupuncture has come from clinical trials that used acupuncture to relieve nausea and vomiting. Several clinical trials have shown that acupuncture reduces nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy, surgery and morning sickness. In a study published in Journal of the American Medical Association in 2000, 104 women undergoing high-dose chemotherapy were given traditional anti-nausea medication. In addition to taking the medication, the women were randomly chosen to receive 5 days of electroacupuncture (acupuncture in which needles are stimulated with a mild electrical current), acupuncture without an electrical current, or no acupuncture. The women who had acupuncture had significantly fewer nausea episodes than those who didn't. (source)


Acupuncture has reduced the amount of pain in people with cancer in some small studies. In one study, most of the people treated with acupuncture were able to stop taking pain-relieving drugs or took smaller doses. Another study has shown that acupuncture may be beneficial for reducing pain after surgery. Some scientists believe that acupuncture releases endorphins in the body, natural chemicals that can increase feelings of well-being and relieve pain (source).

Immune system

Studies that have used acupuncture in people with cancer have shown that it may improve immune system function. At least seven human studies have evaluated the effect of acupuncture on immune function in patients with cancer.These studies were all conducted in China. Five were reported in English, and two were reported in Chinese with English abstracts. Four randomized control trial, a non-randomized clinical study, and two case series  found that acupuncture enhanced or regulated immune function. (source)

Cancer and related symptoms

Clinical trials are studying the effects of acupuncture on cancer and symptoms caused by cancer treatment, such as weight loss, difficulty breathing, cough, fatigue, anxiety and hot flashes. Some studies have shown that acupuncture may relieve symptoms or keeps symptoms from getting worse. Fatigue in people with chronic diseases such as cancer may be eased in some situations by acupuncture, potentially increasing a person's well-being and decreasing malaise. Acupuncture may also help reduce the symptoms of dry mouth (xerostomia) after radiation therapy for head and neck cancer. Tiredness (fatigue) after chemotherapy is a difficult symptom to manage and has a big effect on patient's lives. It can sometimes last for years. A small UK trial of 47 patients in 2007 looked at acupuncture, acupressure and sham acupuncture for moderate to severe chemotherapy related fatigue. The trial showed that acupuncture and acupressure treatments helped people to feel less tired and reduced physical tiredness. It also improved activity. At the end of the treatments, the acupuncture group had a 36% improvement in fatigue levels, while the acupressure group improved by 19% and the sham acupressure by 0.6%. (source)

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