Nausea is that horrible feeling that you need to vomit. Nausea is a fairly common condition that everyone experiences at one time or another in their life. It can be brought on by eating something that has gone bad or by going on a drinking binge. Severe migraines or allergies can also trigger short-term bouts of nausea and vomiting. If the nausea and vomiting extend over a period of weeks, it can lead to dehydration and even hospitalization if food and water can’t be kept down.
This problem is especially bad in patients experiencing severe morning sickness associated with pregnancy or chemo and radiation therapy associated with cancer treatment.
Many drugs can be prescribed to suppress nausea and vomiting. The trouble with this approach is you really want to stay away from strong prescription medication during the early months of pregnancy when symptoms are typically at their worst. With cancer patients, less is more in terms of allowing the body to fight the cancer without piling up additional drugs on top of the chemotherapy.
One treatment from Alternative Medicine that has been gaining rapidly increasing acceptance in the West is acupuncture. Western doctors have recently embraced what Eastern Medicine has known for thousands of years: Acupuncture is extremely beneficial in safely reducing the symptoms of nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy and pregnancy.
Acupuncture has only been approved by the as a medical procedure since 1996. It is now a fully licensed profession in all 50 states and starting to be widely practiced by physicians extensively trained in this discipline.
Even Medicaid and the Veterans Administration have full insurance coverage for acupuncture for pain and other disabling conditions. Other insurance companies are slowly adding acupuncture coverage as they see the advantages over prescribing long-term pain medications for chronic conditions.
Nausea and vomiting can be traced back to abnormal secretion of neurotransmitters in the brain. Research studies have shown that acupuncture seems to work by regulating these neurotransmitters, reducing the nausea.
Cancer patients have also found acupuncture helpful for pain, overwhelming fatigue, anxiety, depression, neuropathy, as well as insomnia.
Additional research by the Medical College of Wisconsin has found that acupuncture procedures are beneficial in controlling some other side effects of chemo and radiation therapy. About 50,000 people a year are diagnosed with throat and head cancers. Radiation therapy to these areas can result in extreme dry mouth and painful swallowing. Symptoms can be so severe that they interfere with a person’s ability to tolerate the cancer treatments.
The report, published in the Journal of Cancer Therapeutics & Research, outlined how doctors took a group of patients that were failing to respond to medication and oral rinses, and found that over a series of ten acupuncture sessions, patients reported gradual improvement with a complete resolution of their painful swallowing after four acupuncture treatments and a 30-40% improvement of dry mouth complaints after 10 acupuncture treatments.
Research into morning sickness associated with pregnancy has shown that acupuncture provides good, drug-free benefits when provided as a regular weekly therapy during the first trimester of pregnancy. This period is typically when symptoms of nausea and vomiting are at their worst. Acupuncture presents no risk to the growing fetus and, indeed, can be used for back pain, swelling, neuropathy, and other pregnancy-related disorders.
If you would like to experience the benefit of acupuncture treatments, be sure to seek out a licensed and experienced provider. Many physicians who actively practice acupuncture will offer a free consultation to discuss the procedures and whether they are likely to help with your specific issues. ❦