Medical Research

Acupuncture May Help to Prevent Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy

Kristen Sparrow • July 01, 2023

Keep in mind, any therapy that can allow an increase in the amount of chemotherapy given can be crucial in providing for increased dosages of chemotherapy, allowing, potentially for a better result in treatment. 

For Practitioners,  the points used were (0.30 mm × 40 mm, Yuguang, Taiwan) to the depth predetermined for each point (between 8 mm and 25 mm, depending on the location of the acupoint) and achieved a “de qi” response, usually described as a pressure or achiness feeling around the acupoints. The selected acupoints for this study were bilateral LI4, LI11, SJ5, LR3, ST36, SP6, GB34, Baxie, and Bafeng.  Needle retention time was 30 minutes, during which the acupuncturist twisted needles every 10 minutes for the de qi sensation.

The patients received bi-weekly verum or sham acupuncture within the weeks that they were scheduled to receive standard oxaliplatin-based chemotherapy chemotherapeutic agents. The interventions were administered before and 2 days after the chemotherapy session.

Note: We’re seeing more of these preventative studies.  In my book, (yes, it’s still a thing), I point to a few studies which show the preventative aspect of acupuncture on the autonomic nervous system, leading to its stabilization in the face of a challenge.  In this study they found that acupuncture preemptively helped peripheral neuropathy caused by chemotherapy.

Acupuncture May Help to Prevent Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy: A Randomized, Sham-Controlled, Single-Blind Study

Huang MC, Chang SC, Liao WL, Ke TW, Lee AL, Wang HM, Chang CP, Yen HR, Chang HH, Chen WT. Acupuncture May Help to Prevent Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy: A Randomized, Sham-Controlled, Single-Blind Study. Oncologist. 2023 Jun 2;28(6):e436-e447. doi: 10.1093/oncolo/oyad065. PMID: 36971468; PMCID: PMC10243779.


Free PMC article


Objective: This study investigated the efficacy of acupuncture in preventing chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) in patients with colorectal cancer (CRC).

Methods: This single center, randomized, controlled, single-blind clinical trial randomly assigned patients with stage 3 CRC attending outpatient clinics in China Medical University Hospital to either verum or sham acupuncture treatment concurrently with chemotherapy. Primary outcomes were nerve conduction velocity (NCV) and touch thresholds of limb terminals. Secondary outcomes were total and subdomain scores on the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-General (FACT-G), and scores on the FACT/GOG-Ntx subscale and the Brief Pain Inventory-Short Form (BPI-SF), at baseline, weeks 12, 36, and follow-up (week 48).Set featured image

Results: Thirty-two patients met the inclusion criteria and received verum acupuncture (N = 16) or sham acupuncture (N = 16). Under the -intent-to-treat principle, 26 participants were analyzed. Significant changes from baseline for questionnaire scores and sensory NCV were observed in both study groups. Sham acupuncture was associated with significant reductions from baseline in motor NCV and sensory touch thresholds; no such changes were observed with verum acupuncture. No serious adverse events were reported.

Conclusion: Prophylactic acupuncture may exert neuroprotective effects on mechanical or tactile touch thresholds during chemotherapy regimens in patients with CRC, with evidence of this protectiveness persisting at 6 months’ follow-up. The lack of change in motor NCV values with verum acupuncture indicates neuroprotective effects. Sensory NCV values and patient-reported outcomes did not differ significantly between the study groups.

Keywords: acupuncture; chemotherapy; colorectal cancer; oxaliplatin; peripheral neuropathy; prevention.