Natural Standard Monograph, Copyright © 2014 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified health care professional before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.
Uses based on scientific evidence
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare professional.
There is evidence from small but well-designed studies of seasickness and artificially-induced motion sickness (using laboratory equipment) indicating that acustimulation can reduce symptoms of nausea and vomiting. It may slow down, but not necessarily prevent, the development of motion sickness.
There is good evidence that acustimulation by wearing the ReliefBand® helps in reducing post-operative nausea and vomiting. The effect may be comparable to anti-nausea medication and may be enhanced when combined with medication. There is also evidence that transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) for five minutes on the P6 point may be effective in children receiving tonsillectomy.
Fatigue (hemodialysis patients)
One study suggested that 15 minutes of transcutaneous electrical acupoint stimulation (TEAS) three times weekly for a month reduced fatigue and depressed mood and increased sleep quality in patients receiving hemodialysis. However, the design of the study makes interpretation of the findings difficult. More studies are needed to determine whether acustimulation should be recommended in hemodialysis patients.
High blood pressure
Acustimulation has been examined in the treatment of high blood pressure in one small study of patients diagnosed with diastolic hypertension. A set of four different acupuncture points were used, with results showing an immediate reduction of diastolic blood pressure. At this time, the evidence is insufficient to recommend acustimulation for high blood pressure.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
One small study suggests that acustimulation to the P6 wrist point and the ST36 point below the knee may help patients with irritable bowel syndrome to reduce symptoms and pain. However, the design was weak, and more studies are needed to determine benefits in IBS.
The evidence on the use of acustimulation wristbands for chemotherapy nausea and vomiting is mixed. Some studies suggest no benefit and that simple acupressure massage may be more effective. Other studies have found benefit that when acustimulation is combined with anti-nausea medications, the bands may reduce the amount of medication needed and they may help with more severely nauseous patients. More studies are needed to clarify the relationship between patient responses, types of cancer, and types of chemotherapy.
Nausea and vomiting (electroconvulsive therapy-related)
Transcutaneous acupoint electrical stimulation has been tested in one small study of patients receiving electroshock therapy for mental illness, to determine whether it might reduce nausea and vomiting after this procedure. The design of the study makes interpretation difficult, and more studies are needed to determine the benefits in this use.
Nausea and vomiting during pregnancy
There is a lack of solid evidence on the effects of acustimulation for nausea associated with pregnancy. Although experts express a general opinion that it is likely beneficial, well-designed studies are needed to document the benefits.
A study of patients recovering from abdominal surgery found that both high- and low-intensity levels of acustimulation reduced their need for pain medication. However, the higher intensity stimulation was more effective. More studies are needed to determine recommendations for the use of acustimulation in pain management.
One study has suggested that the use of the ReliefBand® to stimulate the P6 wrist point does not reduce nausea and retching during the gastroscopy procedure. Theoretically, future studies could contradict this finding, yet the nausea and retching is caused by the invasiveness of the procedure itself, rather than by internal factors in the patient, making it unlikely.
*Key to grades:
A: Strong scientific evidence for this use;B: Good scientific evidence for this use; C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use;D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work);F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).
For full grading rationale, click here.
Uses based on tradition or theory
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional
Cyclic vomiting syndrome.
Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
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