Researchers at the University of Manchester have revealed that acupuncture can alleviate the crippling fatigue related to chemotherapy.
The study led by Alexander Molassiotis, professor of cancer and supportive care at the University of Manchester examined 47 patients suffering from moderate to severe fatigue through a randomised placebo-controlled trial at Manchester's Christie Hospital.
The patients were divided into three groups: acupuncture group, acupressure group, and sham acupressure group.
The acupuncture group was given six 20-minute sessions in three weeks where thin needles were inserted about 2 centimetres into the patients' skin at three points selected for their susceptibility to enhance energy levels and ease fatigue.
The patients in the acupressure group were trained to massage the same acupuncture points for one minute a day for two weeks whereas the sham acupressure group were told to massage different points on the body not associated with energy and fatigue.
The findings revealed that the patients in the first group reported a 36pct improvement in fatigue levels, while those in the second group improved by 19 pct. Those in the sham acupressure group reported a 0.6 pct improvement.
"People felt better and had more energy after the acupuncture," New Scientist quoted Molassiotis, as saying.
"Patients had the energy to walk to the shops and to socialise, so their quality of life improved significantly," he added.
In the previous year, two studies have found that acupuncture might help in increasing fertility after IVF, while the third study failed to demonstrate an effect.
According to the US National Institutes of Health acupuncture is an efficient treatment for nausea caused by anaesthesia and cancer chemotherapy, as well as dental pain following surgery.
However, researchers believe that a bigger trial is needed to properly illustrate the side effects as nobody is sure how acupuncture actually works.