Transcutaneous Electrical Acustimulation

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What is it?

Transcutaneous electrical acustimulation involves applying a low-intensity electrical current to acupuncture points. Acustimulation is different from electroacupuncture because needles aren’t used. It is also different than transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), which doesn’t use acupuncture points.

Acustimulation is most commonly used for nausea and vomiting or pain after surgery. It is also used for other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support its other uses.

It is effective?
Natural Medicines rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

Possibly Effective for …

  • Nausea and vomiting after surgery. Most research shows that using acustimulation during and after surgery helps to prevent and treat nausea and vomiting after surgery. Most studies used a specific acustimulation band (ReliefBand). This band is often worn on the wrist starting 30 minutes before surgery and left on the wrist for up to 72 hours after surgery. Acustimulation might also be beneficial when used along with drugs for nausea and vomiting. But it is unknown if it can be used in place of conventional antiemetics. Acustimulation doesn’t seem to help reduce nausea and vomiting after certain procedures that have a higher risk of causing nausea and vomiting.
  • Pain after surgery. Most research shows that acustimulation prior to, during, and/or after surgery reduces pain after surgery. In some people it also reduces how much pain medicine is needed 1-2 days after surgery.

Possibly Ineffective for …

  • Nausea and vomiting caused by cancer drug treatment. Most research shows that acustimulation doesn’t help reduce nausea and vomiting caused by cancer drugs.

Insufficient Evidence to Make a Determination for …

  • Alcohol use disorder. Early research shows that acustimulation reduces symptoms and cravings in people being treated for alcohol use disorder.
  • A long-term disorder of the large intestines that causes stomach pain (irritable bowel syndrome or IBS). Acustimulation might improve symptoms such as feelings of gas and pressure in people with IBS.
  • Motion sickness. Early research shows that acustimulation reduces discomfort during driving in people with motion sickness.
  • Neck pain. Early research shows that acustimulation may reduce neck pain when used along with standard exercises.
  • A type of anxiety marked by recurrent thoughts and repetitive behaviors (obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD). Early research shows that adding acustimulation to standard therapy for OCD might slightly improve symptoms.
  • Impaired movement of food through the intestines after surgery. Early research shows that acustimulation may help improve the movement of food through the intestines after surgery. This helps to improve bowel movements and appetite.
  • Sleep problems after surgery. Early research shows that acustimulation may help improve sleep after surgery.
  • Anxiety before surgery. Early research shows that acustimulation may help improve feelings of calmness before surgery.
  • A disorder that causes repeated episodes of nausea and vomiting (cyclic vomiting syndrome or CVS).
  • Constipation.
  • Fatigue.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Indigestion (dyspepsia).
  • Itching.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Persistent heartburn.
  • Stroke.
  • Withdrawal from heroin, morphine, and other opioid drugs.
  • Other conditions.

More evidence is needed to rate acustimulation for these uses.

How does it work?
Like acupuncture, acustimulation involves stimulating specific acupoints on the body along pathways called “meridians.” According to traditional Chinese medicine, stimulating acupoints helps to balance specific organs, emotions, or sensory feelings.

Is there concern for the safety of its use?
Acustimulation is LIKELY SAFE when used appropriately, short-term. No serious side effects have been reported with acustimulation. The most common acustimulation device used in research is the ReliefBand. This device is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn’t enough reliable information to know if acustimulation is safe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding. But there’s no reason to believe that it might be harmful.

Are there any drug interactions?
There are no known interactions with medications. Before taking this product, talk with your health professional if you take any medications.

Are there any interactions with herbs and supplements?
There are no known interactions with herbs and supplements.

Are there any interactions with food?
There are no known interactions with foods.

What dose is used?
The most common type of acustimulation device is the ReliefBand. The ReliefBand is worn on the wrist like a watch. It applies a small electric current to an acupoint on the wrist. Other devices apply a small electrical current using electrodes attached to different acupuncture points on the body.

By what other names is the product known?
Acupoint Electrical Stimulation, Acupoint Stimulation, Acupuncture Point Stimulation, Acupuncture-like Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, Acustimulation, Acustimulation Wristbands, TAES, TEAS, Transcutaneous Acupoint Electrical Stimulation, Transcutaneous Electrical Acupoint Stimulation.

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