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Acupuncture & Cancer

Nausea & Vomiting

Acupuncture is known to stimulate the nervous system and cause the release of neurochemical messenger molecules. These biochemical changes influence the body's homeostatic mechanisms which promote a physical and emotional well-being. Three systematic reviews found that acupuncture can help relieve nausea and vomiting, especially in acute cases.


Acupuncture help provide long-term pain relief for patients with cancer. One trial found it to be more effective than usual care for pain. In another trial it was more effective than cobamamide for peripheral neuropathy from chemotherapy. A third trial found it to be better than sham acupuncture for joint symptoms caused by aromatase inhibitors.


Fatigue is one of the most common and debilitating symptoms experienced by patients with cancer. Cancer-related fatigue (CRF) is characterized by feelings of tiredness, weakness, and lack of energy, and is distinct from the “normal” drowsiness experienced by healthy individuals in that it is not relieved by rest or sleepTwo trials showed that acupuncture is more effective than sham acupuncture. Xerostomia (radiotherapy-induced)


A systematic review concluded that acupuncture may be effective for chemotherapy-induced leukopaenia. More recent trials found it to increase granulocyte colony-stimulating factor, improve leukopaenia and increase white blood cell count.

Vasomotor symptoms

A systematic review of three trials and four more recent trials in women with breast cancer have provided promising results. In two out of three studies acupuncture was found superior to sham acupuncture, better than venlafaxine in one out of the two.

Research has proven that acupuncture may benefit symptoms by:

Regulating neurotransmitters

Regulating neurotransmitters and hormones (serotonin), noradrenaline, dopamine, GABA, therefore altering the brain's chemistry to help combat negative affective states

Promotes relaxation

Promotes relaxation and deactivates the 'analytical' brain, which is responsible for worry and anxiety, also acts on areas of the brain known to reduce sensitivity to stress and pain

Reversing pathological changes

Reversing pathological changes in levels of inflammatory cytokines. By promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors, inflammation is reduced.

increasing local microcirculation

By increasing local microcirculation, which aids dispersal of swelling; it improves joint mobility and improves muscle stiffness.

Reduces vasopressin-induced nausea and vomiting

Reduces vasopressin-induced nausea and vomiting, suppresses retrograde peistaltic contractions​

Nausea and vomiting is relieved by regulating gastirc myo-electrical activity

Nausea and vomiting is relieved by regulating gastirc myo-electrical activity, regulating vestibular activities in the cerebellum and modulating the actions of the autonomic nervous system and the vagal nerve

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