Very constipated? Tried acupuncture?

Constipation is a common condition that affects nearly 16% of the world population and people of all age. It has big impact on the patient’s quality of life. Treatment is normally conservative such as dietary change with more fibers, exercise and mild laxatives. Do you know that acupuncture is used in constipation treatment. Recent research provided evidence of effectiveness and mechanism of acupuncture for treating constipation. Chen CY et al studied the effect of acupuncture on constipation. Participants were all female and the average age of them were 42 years old. There were two groups: acupuncture point group and control group (non acupuncture point group). The intervention was given once a week for 8 weeks to make up total 8 treatments. Acupuncture points used were ST36, ST37, ST25, ST28, CV4 and CV6. After 8 weeks treatment, autonomic nervous system activities including heat rate were measured and compared with those before the treatment. They found that autonomic nervous system activities in the acupuncture group had continuously increased after each treatment. Sympathetic nervous activities significantly decreased and parasympathetic activities significantly increased at the end of 8 weeks of treatments in the acupuncture group. Constipation had been improved in acupuncture group and there was no change in heart rate. There was no change of nervous activities in control group. Acupuncture on certain points altered autonomic nervous activities and this may contribute to the improvement of constipation.

Another research was involved in 1075 patients. These patients were divided into two groups: acupuncture group and sham acupuncture group. The study lasted for 20 weeks. The improvement started from 1-8 weeks. 72% patients had improvements in week 9. The response lasts for 12 weeks after the treatment period. Patients with increasing age and coexisting illness may be less likely to respond to acupuncture.

Chen CY et al Am J Chin Med (2013) 41:301-13
Yang X et al Plos One (2017) 12:e0187723.

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