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Acupuncture (PDQ®): Complementary and alternative medicine - Patient Information [NCI] - Overview

  • Acupuncture applies needles, heat, pressure, and other treatments to one or more places on the skin known as acupuncture points (see Question 1).
  • Acupuncture has been used in China and other Asian countries for thousands of years as part of traditional Chinese medicine (see Question 2).
  • Acupuncture has been used in the United States for about 200 years (see Question 2).
  • Acupuncture is used to treat many illnesses and ailments and in cancer patients is usually used to relieve pain and other symptoms and improve quality of life. (see Question 2).
  • There is strong evidence from clinical trials that acupuncture relieves nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy (see Question 8).
  • Acupuncture may work by causing physical responses in nerve cells, the pituitary gland, and parts of the brain (see Question 4).
  • Laboratory and animal studies of acupuncture for cancer treatment suggest acupuncture can reduce vomiting caused by chemotherapy (see Question 7).
  • Most acupuncture research with cancer patients studies the use of acupuncture to relieve symptoms caused by cancer treatment (see Question 8).
  • It is important that acupuncture treatment be given by a qualified practitioner who uses a new set of disposable (single-use) needles for each patient (see Question 9).

    WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

    Last Updated: September 04, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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