March 16, 2009 / 9:30 AM / 10 years ago

Acupuncture may help cancer patients' pain: expert

HONG KONG (Reuters Life!) - Acupuncture can be used to help relieve the pain of cancer patients, as well as the nausea and vomiting induced by chemotherapy, a leading acupuncturist said on Monday.

“China has been using acupuncture as a form of anesthesia for 2,600 years,” said Wang Caihong of Shanghai University’s Traditional Chinese Medicine Institute, adding that the technique had an extremely long and well-tested history in China.

“Nausea is caused by a blockage in circulation and acupuncture can relieve that,” she added.

Wang is part of a team of Chinese doctors who are helping to set up an acupuncture center for cancer patients in Hong Kong’s Prince of Wales Hospital.

Wang told Reuters that acupuncture could also be helpful to relieve all sorts of pain and conditions such as trauma.

“It should be able to help other patients too in many other branches of medicine,” she said.

An increasing number of studies and clinical trials in recent years in Western countries have shown that acupuncture may actually work better than painkillers for people with chronic headache or those who are recovering from major surgeries such as those for head and neck cancer.

Wang said that acupuncture worked best in relieving pain that was just moderate.

“For pain that is moderate, acupuncture is definitely helpful, but for extreme pain, painkillers may be necessary too,” she added.

Reporting by Tan Ee Lyn, editing by Miral Fahmy

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