Acupuncture prophylaxis of cancer chemotherapy-induced sickness

J R Soc Med. 1989 May;82(5):268-71. doi: 10.1177/014107688908200508.


In a multi-facet study we evaluated the efficacy of P6 electroacupuncture (10 Hz applied for 5 min) as an antiemetic in patients receiving a variety of cancer chemotherapy drugs. The study involved 130 (15 in an open pilot study, 10 in a randomized placebo controlled crossover study and 105 in a definitive study) patients who had a history of distressing sickness after previous treatment, and who, on the basis of a previous survey, would be expected to have a 96% chance of this with subsequent therapy. Sickness was either completely absent or reduced considerably in 97% of patients and no side effects were encountered. The limited crossover study, using a 'dummy' acupuncture (ACP) point showed that the beneficial effects were limited to the P6 point. Logistic and ethical considerations excluded the possibility of carrying out a larger placebo-controlled study. While in our hands P6 ACP was an effective antiemetic in patients having cancer chemotherapy, because of the time involved and the brevity of the action (8 h) an alternative approach to electro-ACP is required before this technique is adopted clinically.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Nausea / chemically induced
  • Nausea / prevention & control*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Vomiting / chemically induced
  • Vomiting / prevention & control*


  • Antineoplastic Agents