Electroacupuncture Tied to Improvements in Chronic Constipation

 In Health

According to an Annals of Internal Medicine study, electroacupuncture improves symptoms of chronic constipation.

More than 1000 patients with chronic and severe functional constipation were randomized to receive 28 sessions of either electroacupuncture or sham acupuncture. The electroacupuncture group had needles inserted 30–70 mm deep into three acupoints. Two of these points were electrically stimulated. In the sham group, needles were inserted at a more shallow depth into three points not associated with acupuncture meridians. In addition, the electroacupuncture device for these sham points did not have current output.

During the 8 weeks of treatment, the electroacupuncture group had a greater increase in complete, spontaneous bowel movements per week over baseline compared with the sham group (1.76 vs. 0.87 more BMs). The results remained significant at week 20. The treatment group also showed higher quality-of-life scores.

The authors note that previous studies have found that acupuncture can help gastrointestinal motility. They conclude that acupuncture “might be recommended as a valuable and promising new therapeutic option for patients” with chronic and severe functional constipation.

Ann Intern Med. Published online 13 September 2016 doi:10.7326/M15-3118

Adam Gavsie, MD
Medical Director of The Montreal Centre for Integrative Medicine Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine, McGill University