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Research Shows Acupuncture Helps Breast Surgery Patients

(U-WIRE) DURHAM, NC - Acupuncture has the power to reduce nausea and vomiting after major surgery and may work better than the most commonly used medications, according to a new study conducted by Duke University researchers.

Breast surgery typically causes post-operative vomiting in 60 to 70 percent of women who undergo it, said Dr. Rong Joo Gan, an associate professor in the department of anesthesiology and head of the research team.

Previous studies have demonstrated that acupuncture is significantly more effective than a post-operative placebo in reducing nausea and vomiting. The recent findings, however, showed the capacity of acupuncture to decrease post-surgical sickness, compared with Zofran, the most commonly used drug for reducing sickness. In addition, women treated with acupuncture reported they experienced much less pain 24 hours after surgery than those who had not received the treatment.

"The increasing success of acupuncture in clinical trials might point to its use as a more conventional method of treating pain", Gan said. "The use of acupuncture is clearly not confined to breast surgery. The time is right to be doing more studies to assess critically how to implement Eastern medicine into Western practices," Gan said.

According to Traditional Chinese medicine, the human body has as many as 2,000 acupuncture points, which are connected by 20 pathways called meridians. These meridians conduct energy, or Qi, between the surface of the body and its internal organs. Acupuncture is believed to maintain the normal flow of Qi throughout the body, thereby keeping a person healthy.