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    Wrist Acupressure Reduces Anesthesia-Related Nausea

    By Jennifer Huddleston, staff writer     

    An evidence review published in the April 2009 edition of The Cochrane Library reported that stimulating an acupoint in the wrists of patients experiencing nausea after surgery and anesthesia can alleviate their symptoms with few side effects.

    The review’s author, Anna Lee of the department of anesthesia and intensive care at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and her colleague sought to determine if stimulating the Pericardium (P6) acupoint is an effective alternative to the costly anti-nausea drugs typically used to treat postoperative nausea and vomiting.

    The researchers analyzed 40 studies of nearly 5,000 patients in which P6 acupoint stimulation was compared to placebo treatments or anti-nausea medication therapy. While 10 different methods of stimulating the P6 acupoint were included in the studies, the most common was the use of acupressure wristbands.

    The review found that compared to placebo treatments, P6 acupoint stimulation significantly reduced the risk of postoperative nausea and vomiting with minimal side effects. Lee and her colleague determined that the treatment can be a “suitable alternative or addition to” anti-nausea medications but did not find evidence that P6 acupoint stimulation is more effective than the drugs.

    Up to 80 percent of surgical patients experience postoperative nausea and vomiting. According to the review, utilizing P6 acupoint stimulation to ease those symptoms could decrease expenditures (including the cost of anti-nausea drugs and lengthy hospital stays) and improve quality of care.

    Another recent study on acupoint stimulation and nausea reported similar findings in cancer patients.

    Researchers led by Joseph Roscoe, Ph.D., of the University of Rochester’s James P. Wilmot Cancer Center in Rochester, New York, studied 88 patients who each experienced nausea after at least two radiation treatments for any type of cancer.

    The control group was not given wristbands, while the other two groups were given wristbands and informational handouts. The second group’s handout explained that prior research found that the wristbands alleviated nausea and showed bar graphs demonstrating the findings. The third group’s handout contained more neutral information about the wristbands.

    The study revealed that patients who wore the wristbands had a 23.8 percent decrease in self-reported nausea, whereas patients in the control group experienced a 4.8 percent reduction.

    While the patients with the wristbands reported significantly less nausea than patients in the control group, researchers did not find differences in nausea, expectations of the wristbands’ effectiveness or effects of the informational handouts between the two groups with the wristbands.

    The findings of the study, funded by the American Cancer Society, were published March 31, 2009, in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management .

    [1] Fauntleroy, Glenda. “Wrist Acupuncture or Acupressure Prevents Nausea From Anesthesia.” Health Behavior News Service, Center for Advancing Health. April 14, 2009.
    [2]  Ibid.
    [3]  Ibid.
    [4] University of Rochester Medical Center. “Wristbands Ease Nausea with Cancer Treatment.” ScienceDaily. April 10, 2009.
    [5] Neale, Todd. “Acupressure Eases Radiation Nausea in Cancer Patients.” MedPage Today. April 10, 2009.

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