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Nausea, Vomiting, and Hiccups: Acupuncture Treatment



Acupuncture is a common and effective treatment for nausea, vomiting, and hiccups (diaphragmatic spasms). These symptoms can be caused by various factors, and numerous clinical studies have demonstrated that acupuncture is effective for nausea and vomiting induced by surgery, chemotherapy, and pregnancy.


The methods of acupuncture treatment for nausea, vomiting, and hiccups are similar. Many clinical reports worldwide have documented the effectiveness of acupuncture in preventing or alleviating vomiting, with the Neiguan (PC6) point being the most frequently used and recognized for its efficacy. Stimulation of Neiguan is particularly suited for visceral-stimulus-induced vomiting, such as post-gynecological surgery or centrally induced by chemotherapy or morphine.


Transcutaneous electrical stimulation of Neiguan for 5 minutes has been shown to be 97% effective in cancer patients with a history of post-chemotherapy vomiting, significantly reducing or eliminating gastric discomfort without side effects. In breast cancer patients, acupressure at Neiguan and Zusanli (ST36) significantly reduced the incidence and intensity of nausea during the first 10 days of radiation therapy.


The mechanism of acupuncture in controlling vomiting is thought to be related to the inhibition of gastric motility, but the principles behind its effectiveness in reducing or preventing nausea are not yet clear.


The distribution of visceral reflex areas in the limbs is divided by the diaphragm, with the stomach passing through it, having a small part above and a large part below the diaphragm. Therefore, its reflex areas are distributed in both the upper and lower limbs. Neiguan and Zusanli are representative points of the stomach reflex areas in the upper and lower limbs, respectively. Zhongwan (CV12) is the center of the local stomach reflex area in the upper abdomen, and Yintang (EX-HN3) is the center in the forehead. Stimulating these four points is considered the best combination for treating nausea, vomiting, or stomach disorders, and can be done simultaneously in a supine position. The back's stomach reflex area can also be used in combination with abdominal points or other areas.


Occasional hiccups usually stop on their own, but persistent cases require treatment. Acupuncture and acupoint massage typically offer rapid relief for common hiccups. For hiccups caused by diaphragmatic nerve stimulation due to tumors or ascites, acupuncture is more challenging in terms of effectiveness and maintaining results. Combining auricular acupuncture with body acupuncture is one way to enhance effectiveness. Another key point is selecting points within the diaphragmatic reflex area. The diaphragmatic reflex area on the auricle, located at the antitragus, is distinct. The body's diaphragmatic reflex area overlaps with the stomach reflex area, so the same points can be used for treating persistent hiccups.

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