Acupuncture/ pressureCancerNCCAM

Acupuncture to treat hiccups in cancer patients

Researchers at the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), National Institutes of Health, in Bethesda, Maryland tell us acupuncture may be a clinically useful.

First, the details.

  • 16 adult male patients with cancer and persistent hiccups were treated with 1 to 3 acupuncture sessions over 1 to 7 days.
  • Treatment effectiveness was measured using a hiccup assessment instrument pre- and post-treatment.
  • The effects of acupuncture on common symptoms reported by all patients were also evaluated.

And, the results.

  • 13 patients experienced complete clearing of persistent hiccups — a significant response.
  • 3 patients had decreased hiccups severity.
  • Significant improvement was observed in discomfort, distress, and fatigue.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “This case series demonstrates that acupuncture may be a clinically useful, safe, and low-cost therapy for persistent hiccups in patients with cancer.”

Sounds good, but how many of these patients would have had an end to their hiccups after 7 days without receiving acupuncture?

Why did the NCCAM not include a placebo control group for comparison?

6/26/10 21:57 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.