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Cancer Health Center

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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).

This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: 8/, 015
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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