Acupuncture shows meaningful improvements in treating constipation

A pilot trial conducted by Korean researchers indicated that acupuncture could benefit people with functional constipation. By successfully reducing the prevalence of constipation without the need for laxative drugs, the traditional healing art showed its potential as an alternative means of treating the gut disorder.

Daejeon University approved the study. Its results were published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

  • The participants consisted of patients with functional constipation. Each participant was assigned to either the real acupuncture (acupuncture) group or the shame acupuncture (sham) group.
  • Intervention for the acupuncture group comprised eight fixed acupuncture points plus four more points based on the unique needs of the individual patient. The sham treatment called for shallow acupuncture insertions at 12 non-acupuncture points. All points were derived from Traditional Korean Medicine.
  • The trial consisted of 12 sessions and lasted for four weeks with a post-trial follow-up period of four weeks. The number of times a patient defecated for every week, their spontaneous complete bowel movement, and their scores on the British stool scale and the constipation assessment scale were recorded and assessed.
  • The findings showed that acupuncture improved the outcome measures, especially for those participants with hard stools. Furthermore, the benefits lasted for four weeks after completing the treatment.
  • Both groups had similar numbers of participants (four) who developed adverse effects. However, the adverse effects were not connected to acupuncture or the shame treatment.

After concluding that traditional Korean acupuncture showed promise in amending the symptoms of spontaneous complete bowel movement during and after treatment, the researchers advised that a full experiment be conducted to verify their initial findings.

The full study can be read here.

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Journal Reference:

Lee HY, Kwon OJ, Kim JE, Kim M, Kim AR, Park HJ, Cho JH, Kim JH, Choi SM. EFFICACY AND SAFETY OF ACUPUNCTURE FOR FUNCTIONAL CONSTIPATION: A RANDOMISED, SHAM-CONTROLLED PILOT TRIAL. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 15 June 2018;18(186). DOI: 10.1186/s12906-018-2243-4.

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