Chemotherapy Induced Nausea & Vomit ***

For chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, acupuncture was rate as ‘effective’ in the Australian DVA review (2010) and was not reviewed separately to ‘cancer adverse effects’ in the USVA Evidence map of acupuncture (2014) (1, 2). In 2013, a systematic review of seven acupuncture and six acupressure RCTs found that acupuncture reduced the frequency of acute vomiting and the dose of rescue medication but did not reduce acute nausea severity or frequency compared to control. Acupressure showed a decrease in frequency of nausea but not acute vomiting or delayed symptoms. All studies used state-of-the-art combination anti-emetics in addition to acupuncture/acupressure. The reviewers rated the quality of evidence in the acupuncture studies as low to moderate while the acupressure studies were moderate to high quality. There was insufficient evidence to draw firm conclusions due to underpowered studies(3). However, an updated systematic review by Garcia et al in 2014 (using 18 new RCTs) found that acupuncture is an appropriate referral option for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (4).

Chemotherapy Induced Peripheral Neuropathy *

Acupuncture superior to sham in one RCT; very low quality evidence (Franconi 2013 – SR of 3 RCTs, 3 case series, 1 rat study)(5)


1. Biotext. Alternative therapies and Department of Veterans’ Affairs Gold and White Card arrangements. In: Australian Government Department of Veterans’ Affairs, editor: Australian Government Department of Veterans’ Affairs; 2010.

2. Hempel S, Taylor SL, Solloway MR, Miake-Lye IM, Beroes JM, Shanman R, et al. VA Evidence-based Synthesis Program Reports. Evidence Map of Acupuncture. Washington (DC): Department of Veterans Affairs; 2014.

3. McKeon C, Smith, C.A., Hardy, J. & Chang, E. Acupunctrue and acupressure for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting : a systematic review. Australian Journal of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. 2013;8(1):2-17.

4. Garcia MK, McQuade J, Lee R, Haddad R, Spano M, Cohen L. Acupuncture for symptom management in cancer care: an update. Curr Oncol Rep. 2014 Dec;16(12):418.

5. Franconi G, Manni L, Schroder S, Marchetti P, Robinson N. A systematic review of experimental and clinical  acupuncture in chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:516916.