Friday, October 5, 2007

Acupressure & Nausea and Vomiting

Acupressure & Nausea and Vomiting

Despite the use of antiemetic drugs, chemotherapy commonly causes severe nausea and vomiting in patients. But scientists have discovered that acupressure may hold the solution to the problem. Researchers at the Northern Ireland Radiotherapy centre, Belvoir Park Hospital, Belfast (1), found that of 105 patients who had failed to respond favourably to drug therapy, acupressure succeeded in preventing nausea and vomiting in 66% of the patients and, in fact, only 6% of the patients failed to benefit from the acupressure treatment.

The acupressure was given alongside the antiemetic drugs and although there were no side effects, the benefits only lasted 6-8 hours. This presented no problem for hospitalized patients where the treatment could be repeated when needed, but it was a problem for out-patients. The researchers therefore looked for ways of extending the antiemetic action of the acupressure and eventually found the answer. Simply by placing an elasticated wrist band with a stud placed over the acupuncture point (P6), and pressed regularly for up to 24 hours. The treatment work for all (20/20) of the hospitalized patients and 75% (15/20) of the out-patients. ( The researchers summarised that the treatment was more effective for hospitalized patients, because unlike out-patients, they were regularly encouraged to to press the stud on the acupuncture point.

The researcher concluded that a commercially available elasticated with a plastic stud (sea sickness band) would be an effective method of applying pressure to point P6 and alleviating vomiting and nausea induced by chemotherapy in cancer patients.

In another study (2), 162 general surgical patients were randomly selected to receive one of three treatments for post operative nausea and vomiting:


  • acupressure using elasticated bands containing a plastic button to apply sustained pressure to at the P6 (Neiguan) acupuncture point above the wrist,

  • control dummy bands without the pressure button bands,

  • Antiemetic injections of Prochlorperazine

All patients received papaveretum injections as required for pain, and additional prochlorperazine injections were prescribed if nausea was not controlled in groups 1 and 2. The severity of nausea was assessed using linear analogue scale and was significantly reduced by acupressure in comparison to both the placebo and drug groups. The incidence of post operative vomiting, and the need fo unplanned antiemetic injections was also reduced by acupressure, and the researchers were so impressed by the results that they recommended that acupressure should be investigated in other clinical situations as well.

  • Prolongation of the antiemetic action of P6 acupuncture by acupressure in patients having cancer chemotherapy. Dundee JW; Yang J northern Ireland Radiotherapy centre, Belvoir Park Hospital, Belfast. JR soc med (ENGLAND) Jun 1990, 83 (6) p360-2