Acupuncture may offer hope to some 80 percent of the people who receive general anesthesia and experience severe nausea as a result, according to a new study.
The study, based on a review of 40 studies including 4,858 patients and conducted by Anna Lee of the Department of Anesthesia and Intensive Care at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, found evidence that stimulation of an acupoint in the wrists can help reduce nausea symptoms.
Specifically, stimulation of the Pericardium (P6) point in the wrist prevents nausea and vomiting as it activates a nerve signal which prompts the brain to release neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine or endorphins, explains Lixing Lao, from the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
"[These neurotransmitters] block the other chemicals that cause the sickness in the central [nervous] system [so] the patient won’t feel that sick or nauseated," the expert adds.
The importance of the finding stems from the fact that traditional anti-emetic medications are expensive and they may have unpleasant side effects.
Stimulating the P6 point can occur by several methods such as acupuncture or acupressure. Acupuncture involves penetrating the skin with thin needles at defined points and is one of the main medical treatments in traditional Chinese medicine dating back more than 2,000 years.
One type of acupressure involves wearing a wristband that presses down on the P6 point.