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Acupuncture works, but it appears to work equally well with or without needle penetration. This conclusion was drawn from a treatment study involving cancer patients suffering from nausea during radiotherapy.
In a series of acupuncture studies that involved more than 200 patients who were undergoing radiation treatment, roughly half received traditional acupuncture with needles penetrating the skin in particular points, while the others received simulated acupuncture instead, with a telescopic, blunt placebo needle that merely touched their skin.
Afterwards, 95 percent of the patients in both groups felt that the treatment had helped relieve nausea, and 67 percent had experienced other positive effects such as improved sleep, brighter mood, and less pain. Both groups felt considerably better than a separate control group that received no acupuncture of any kind.
The acupuncture was performed by physiotherapists two or three times a week during the five week long period of their radiation treatment.