Scientists have discovered that a natural method of treating chronic fatigue can reduce symptoms but up to a third in just over a month.
University of Michigan researchers found acupressure reduced fatigue in 424 women who had been treated for breast cancer by 27 percent to 34 percent over six weeks.
Fatigue is one of the most common long-term effects of breast cancer treatment. About a third of women experience moderate to severe fatigue up to 10 years after their treatment ends. Some experts believe a viral infection such as glandular fever can trigger chronic fatigue and many people develop the condition as a result of depression or a traumatic event.
According to the study, published in JAMA Oncology, two-thirds of women who did relaxing acupressure, a certain type of the healing method, achieved normal fatigue levels.
“Fatigue is an underappreciated symptom across a lot of chronic diseases, especially cancer. It has a significant impact on quality of life. Acupressure is easy to learn and patients can do it themselves,” says study author Suzanna Zick, N.D., MPH, of the University of Michigan.
The study participants had just 15 minutes of training and were able to accurately locate the correct acupressure points and apply the right amount of pressure.
“Given the brief training required to learn acupressure, this intervention could be a low-cost option for treating fatigue,” Zick says.
So, what is acupressure?
Acupressure is derived from traditional Chinese medicine. It involves applying pressure with fingers, thumbs or a device to specific points on the body. Researchers tested two types of acupressure: relaxing acupressure, which is traditionally used to treat insomnia, and stimulating acupressure, which is used to increase energy. The two techniques differ by which points on the body are stimulated.
The researchers are developing a mobile app to teach acupressure. They also plan to investigate why acupressure impacts fatigue and whether it is also effective for patients in active treatment and with cancers other than breast.