Acupuncture May Help Chemotherapy Side Effects
WebMD News Archive
Still, Shen notes that the placebo effect cannot be entirely
dismissed. As for the physical effects of acupuncture, Shen says scientists
believe that the ancient Chinese practice may have effects on neurotransmitters
-- chemicals in the brain that control the body's response to substances that
can cause vomiting.
Shen's study adds to a growing body of evidence. A 1997 NIH
Consensus Statement on Acupuncture stated that "promising results have
emerged" showing effectiveness of acupuncture in easing nausea and vomiting
after surgery and chemotherapy.
Ian Cyrus, director of acupuncture and oriental medicine at the
center for integrative medicine at Thomas Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia,
says the study corroborates what he has learned in his own practice treating
cancer patients receiving chemotherapy, and that is that acupuncture works.
"It definitely makes a difference in the quality of life
with respect to controlling vomiting," says Cyrus, who has treated thirty
chemotherapy patients this year.
"The study clearly demonstrates the benefits of acupuncture
when compared to those who are not receiving it," Cyrus tells WebMD.
"The key here is that acupuncture does work, and patients receiving
acupuncture and drugs receive extra benefit. This should be considered part of
the entire treatment strategy for cancer patients receiving
Cyrus tells WebMD that he believes acupuncture is no longer
considered eccentric or out of the mainstream, but has arrived in American
medicine. And he says acupuncture alone does not convey the scope of what
Oriental medicine has to offer American medicine and western patients.
"Acupuncture is only one modality in a family of modalities offered by
Oriental medicine," he tells WebMD.
But he says that with conditions like chemotherapy-induced
vomiting, it's best used in combination with western style medicine.
"Studies like this clearly illustrate that acupuncture does have a
significant benefit when used in conjunction with other western pharmaceutical
approaches," Cyrus says. "That's the key, it is complementary."