Acupuncture For Digestive Disorders: What Research Says | Paddington Clinic, Acupuncture Brisbane & Natural TherapiesPaddington Clinic

Acupuncture For Digestive Disorders: What Research Says

30 Jan, 2012 - Acupuncture, Blog

Acupuncture For Digestive Disorders: What Research SaysSome people may not think of using acupuncture to treat their digestive complaints. However, there is a growing body of research showing that acupuncture is effective in reducing many digestive upsets; from bloating and morning sickness to pain, gallstones and chronic cholecystitis. Read the research results below.

Epigastric Pain

Epigastric pain is a common symptom in diseases of the stomach, including peptic ulcer, acute and chronic gastritis, and gastric spasm. Acupuncture provides satisfactory relief of epigastric pain-significantly better than injections of anisodamine or morphine plus atropine, as shown in randomized controlled trials.

Nausea and Vomiting

Another common symptom of digestive disorders is nausea and vomiting. This can be due to a disordered function of the stomach, but it is more often a symptom or sign of generalized disorders. Morning sickness, postoperative vomiting, and nausea and vomiting related to chemotherapy are frequently encountered clinically. In all these conditions, acupuncture at point nèiguan (PC6) seems to have a specific antiemetic effect. A recent systematic review of trials using acupuncture for antiemesis showed that 11 of 12 randomized placebo-controlled trials, involving nearly 2000 patients, supported this effect. The reviewed papers showed consistent results across different investigators, different groups of patients, and different forms of acupuncture stimulation.

Digestive Diseases

Irritable colon syndrome and chronic ulcerative colitis are often difficult to treat with conventional medication. For these diseases, acupuncture has been shown to serve as a complementary or alternative therapeutic measure.

How Does Acupuncture Improve Digestion?

There has been extensive research on the effect of acupuncture on the digestive system, with extensive data showing its influence on the physiology of the gastrointestinal tract, including acid secretion, motility, neurohormonal changes and changes in sensory thresholds. This means that many digestive symptoms can be treated. For example, bloating is reduced by acupuncture’s ability to increase acid secretion and improve the motility of the gastro-intestinal tract. This means food is broken down more effectively and moved through the digestive tract more efficiently.

Also, acupuncture shows good analgesic and antispasmodic effects on the biliary tract and, as indicated previously, can be recommended for treatment of biliary colic. It also has a cholagogic action, which has been demonstrated in experimental studies. In the treatment of biliary colic due to gallstones, acupuncture is not only effective for relieving the colicky pain, but is also useful for expelling the stones. Acupuncture treatment is also worth trying for chronic cholecystitis, even if there is acute exacerbation.

Please Note: All research references come from the World Health Organisation Treatment List and are sourced from the Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Health Information Organisation.

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