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Electroacupuncture trial is NCCAM's first intramural study

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) has launched a clinical trial of electroacupuncture to determine if it reduces the delayed nausea experienced by cancer patients following chemotherapy. This study marks the first clinical trial for NCCAM's Division of Intramural Research, which was established in April 2001, at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD.

Electroacupuncture, which has been in use for decades, is a variation of traditional acupuncture. In this process, acupuncture needles are placed at selected points and then pulsed with an electric current to stimulate the acupuncture points. Electroacupuncture has been studied for a variety of health conditions including treatment of pain and relief of acute nausea following chemotherapy. Acute nausea occurs within the first 24 hours after chemotherapy, whereas delayed nausea occurs 24 hours to 5 days after chemotherapy.

"The scientific evidence supporting use of electroacupuncture for relief of acute nausea following chemotherapy is very encouraging," said Marc Blackman, M.D., Director of NCCAM's Division of Intramural Research. "Now we need to look at its potential utility for treating delayed post-chemotherapy nausea, a problem for many cancer patients that needs to be investigated."

The randomized trial will enroll 52 patients, aged 16 to 35 years, who have been diagnosed with pediatric sarcomas and are starting their first course of chemotherapy. Standard treatment for pediatric sarcomas involves chemotherapy regimens that are likely to cause both acute and delayed nausea. Patients will be divided into two groups--a treatment group that receives electroacupuncture and a control group that receives sham needling. Sham needling involves placement of acupuncture needles near acupuncture points, but in sites that are considered to have no treatment effect on nausea or emesis (vomiting). The patients and investigators, except for the acupun
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Contact: NCCAM Press Office
301-451-8876
NIH/National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
12-Jun-2002


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