Nearly 5,000 (4,858) patients who underwent surgery were studied to discover if acupuncture of the wrist area could stop or reduce nausea after operations.
About 80% of people going through surgical procedures suffer from sickness afterward. Modern medicine can only give antiemetic shots to alleviate this. These antiemetics can have side-effects so doctors have been on the look out for a safer alternative for years.
The pericardium point (P6) in the wrist is an energy point which when stimulated, can prevent feelings of sickness and vomiting.
Stimulating the P6 point with acupuncture is done by passing very fine needles into the skin. It is thought to unblock clogged energy, allowing it to flow more freely and reduce a number of symptoms in the recipient. The wrist area is specifically related to nausea.
This form of treatment is over 2,000 years old and originated in China as their traditional medicine. Up until recently, many doctors dismissed acupuncture as nonsense and a 'placebo' medicine that didn't really work, but now they have a scientific explanation for how it does work.
Lixing Lao, an acupuncturist and doctor at the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in the USA, said "After a stimulation on the acupuncture point, the nerve system is then activated and signals the brain to release certain chemicals known as neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine or endorphins. These then block the other chemicals that cause the sickness, nausea and vomiting, in this case, in the central nerve system. Therefore, the patient won’t feel that sick or nauseated.”
Different types of sickness were also studied, including morning sickness, travel sickness and chemotherapy induced sickness. Reviewers found that compared to a dud placebo treatment, acupuncture 'significantly reduced the risk of nausea and vomiting after surgery'.
This is good news for cancer patients who chose to undergo chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgeries, all of which cause sickness. Anything which can reduce the amount of suffering without the risk of additional side-effects is a good thing.