Category Archives: Digestion

Acupuncture for digestive health, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), constipation, nausea & indigestion.

Acupuncture for Postoperative Nausea

Acupuncture in Exeter: acupuncture for postoperative nausea. An American randomised trial studying acupuncture for postoperative nausea, has shown that children receiving the treatment alongside anti-sickness medication, are less likely to experience symptoms. A total of 161 children aged 3 to 9 and undergoing tonsillectomy, were randomised to receive either acupuncture plus antiemetic drugs, or antiemetics alone. Acupuncture consisted of needling the well-known point Neiguan on each wrist.

During phases 1 and 2 of recovery, the incidence of postoperative nausea and vomiting was 7% in the acupuncture group and 35% in the group on medication alone. This was mainly due to the reduction in nausea. Vomiting was no different between the two groups. The day after surgery, nausea and vomiting was 36% in the acupuncture group and 49% in the medication only group.

(Randomized trial of acupuncture with antiemetics for reducing postoperative nausea in children. Acta Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica , 6 November 2018.)

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Acupuncture and Constipation

Acupuncture in Exeter: Acupuncture and constipation. A pilot study undertaken in Korea suggests acupuncture can offer clinically meaningful improvements in functional constipation (constipation not due to IBS or other diseases). Thirty patients with the condition, mean age 50, were randomised to receive either real acupuncture or sham acupuncture in a university hospital setting. The sham sessions consisted of 12 shallow needle insertions at non-acupuncture points. Patients received twelve treatment sessions over four weeks.

Real acupuncture, but not sham, resulted in clinically meaningful improvements in frequency of bowel movements, and these were maintained at follow-up four weeks after completion of treatment. The researchers conclude that a full-sized randomised controlled trial with long-term follow-up should be conducted to confirm their promising efficacy and safety findings.

(Efficacy & safety of acupuncture for functional constipation: a randomised, sham-controlled pilot trial. BMC Complementary & Alternative Medicine, 15 June 2018.)

Chinese authors of a network meta-analysis have concluded acupuncture ranks as one of the best non-pharmacological treatments for chronic functional constipation. They looked at 33 randomised trials covering over 4300 participants, which compared eight non-pharmacological treatments with placebo, sham and conventional interventions. Compared with laxatives, acupuncture had a significantly greater effect on stool frequency, with a lower incidence of adverse events.

(Non-pharmacological conservative treatments for chronic functional constipation: A systemic review & network meta-analysis. Neurogastroenterology & Motility, 20 August 2018.)

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Acupuncture for Indigestion

Acupuncture for indigestion. A randomised controlled trial in China looking at acupuncture for indigestion (dyspepsia) has demonstrated that it can improve the symptoms. A total of 200 patients with persistent functional dyspepsia were assigned to receive 20 sessions of either true or sham control electroacupuncture over a four week period. Symptom scores showed true electroacupuncture to be superior to sham at all time points, and its effect persisted for 20 weeks following the end of the treatment period.

(Electroacupuncture for patients with refractory functional dyspepsia: A randomized controlled trial. Neurogastroenterology & Motility, 28 February 2018.)

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Acupuncture for Constipation

Acupuncture for constipation. The results of a large study undertaken in China suggest that using acupuncture for constipation is as effective as drug therapy. A total of 684 patients with chronic functional constipation, were randomly allocated to receive one of three acupuncture protocols or the drug mosapride, for four weeks. Sixteen acupuncture treatments were given over the four weeks, with electrical stimulation on the needles.

After four weeks, the number of spontaneous bowel movements had increased significantly and fairly equally across all four groups. At eight week follow up however, the change had become significantly smaller in the drug group compared with all three acupuncture groups.

(Acupuncture for patients with chronic functional constipation: A randomized controlled trial. Neurogastroenterology & Motility, 2 February 2018.)

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Acupuncture for Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease

A systematic review conducted by researchers in the US and China, suggests acupuncture for gastro-oesophageal reflux disease is a safe and effective treatment option. A total of 12 studies involving 1235 patients were included in the analysis. Patients given acupuncture combined with standard western medication, demonstrated superior overall symptom improvement compared with those receiving standard medication alone. When it came to patients who had only received either acupuncture alone or medication alone, overall symptom improvements was similar for both groups, but recurrence rates were lower in the acupuncture group. The authors add that descriptive analyses suggest acupuncture also improves patients’ quality of life, but that further studies are needed.

(Acupuncture for the treatment of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Acupuncture in Medicine, 2017.)

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