Xerostomia is the condition of abnormal dryness of the mouth due to decreased secretion of saliva or spit to keep the mouth wet. It is a disheartening condition which can significantly impair quality of life in sufferers. As per the National Cancer Institute, Head and neck cancers account for approximately 3 percent of all cancers in the United States and their treatment by radiotherapy gives rise to xerostomia in most cases. Cancer patients typically exhibit a high prevalence of xerostomia. According to a 1999 study, roughly 70% of seriously ill cancer patients suffered from xerostomia.

Studies show a significant increase in saliva both during and after acupuncture treatments which involve manual or electrical stimulation. Patients are typically treated with specific acupuncture protocols involving points to calm the mind, reduce inflammation and hypersensitivity, increase Saliva and additional support to other acu-points based on symptom variables. Treatments include both body acupuncture and auricular (ear) acupuncture. Acu-pressure treatments may also be included in the patients’ treatment plan as this will allow patients to treat themselves while not in the office in an effort to maximize treatment efficacy and results.

Studies also show improvement with Saliva output in patients that are given sugarless mints during treatment to help stimulate salivary flow, although the mints usually produced little, if any, saliva without the use of acupuncture. In 2011, a randomized controlled trial of acupuncture for prevention of radiation-induced xerostomia among patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma showed acupuncture given concurrently with radiotherapy significantly reduced xerostomia and improved quality of life. Cancer, 118: 3337–3344 .