People with severe chronic constipation may get relief from a more modern type of acupuncture, new research suggests.

Can acupuncture ease severe constipation?

September 12, 2016 by Karen Pallarito, Healthday Reporter
Can acupuncture ease severe constipation?

(HealthDay)—People with severe chronic constipation may get relief from a more modern type of acupuncture, new research suggests.

After eight weeks of treatment with electroacupuncture —acupuncture involving electrical stimulation—study participants experienced significant symptom and quality-of-life improvements, the study found.

Electroacupuncture uses thin needles inserted beneath the skin that are attached to a device that sends electric pulses into the body.

The study findings suggest a safe and effective option for difficult-to-treat patients, several gastroenterologists said.

“It is heartening to see such rigorously tested alternative therapies, since so many of them are administered without any evidence to support them,” said Dr. Christopher Andrews. He’s a clinical associate professor in the gastroenterology division at University of Calgary Cumming School of Medicine in Canada.

Dr. Henry Parkman, a professor of medicine at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, said: “This seems to be a good treatment for the refractory patients—those not responding to conventional medical treatments.”

The study involved people with chronic, severe “functional” constipation. These people have difficult, infrequent bowel movements—no more than two per week—not due to other medical conditions or medicines they may be taking, such as opioid painkillers.

For the study, the researchers randomly assigned 1,075 patients to one of two groups. Half received electroacupuncture with needles that pierced the muscle layer of the abdominal wall. The other half received “sham” treatments, with shallow needles at points not considered therapeutic in acupuncture (the “control” group).

Acupuncturists at 15 Chinese hospitals administered the real and sham treatments, consisting of 28 half-hour sessions.

Over the eight-week treatment period, 31 percent of patients in the electroacupuncture group had three or more bowel movements in a week, on average. Only 12 percent of patients in the control group achieved that level of relief.

Bowel movements of three per day to three per week are considered within the range of “normal,” according to the American College of Gastroenterology.

The effects persisted well after treatment. Almost 38 percent of electroacupuncture patients reported three or more bowel movements a week, on average, during the study’s 12-week follow-up period, compared to 14 percent of sham therapy patients.

“We were indeed surprised when we first saw these results,” said Dr. Jia (Marie) Liu of the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences in Beijing. She is one of the study authors and the research team’s coordinator.

Liu cited two possible explanations for the post-treatment effects. For one, electroacupuncture has a “good sustained effect, which is one of its advantages,” she said.

What’s more, the research team evaluated weekly average during the treatment and follow-up periods, not just end points, as in many prior studies.

“[Electroacupuncture] needs time to take effect and got its peak at week eight,” she said.

Dr. Daniel Hsu, who practices acupuncture in New York City, said acupuncture—whether through traditional needling or with electrical stimulation—works in two ways.

“It makes the body release its own naturally occurring painkillers” and “it helps the body calm the nervous system,” he said.

Stress can certainly affect digestion and cause constipation, Hsu explained. Acupuncture “flips the switch” on the body’s fight-or-flight response, restoring normal body functions such as defecation, he said.

One potential drawback is the frequency of treatment. Patients in the study received electroacupuncture three to five times per week over eight weeks, which might be a burden for some people, the study authors acknowledged.

On the other hand, because the treatment effects lasted for many weeks, it may be that patients don’t need continuous , Andrews said.

Additional studies are needed to evaluate longer-term outcomes, the study authors noted.

In the United States, acupuncturists are licensed in almost every state but are most prevalent in big cities, particularly on the East and West coasts, Hsu said. He added that most acupuncture colleges teach electroacupuncture.

Neither Medicare nor Medicaid covers acupuncture but some private insurers cover a fixed number of sessions under their policies, Hsu said.

“A lot of practitioners do take insurance if it’s covered,” he said. If not, must pay out of pocket.

Treatment costs may vary widely from one practitioner to the next. Fees generally range from $60 to $120 per session.

The study was published online Sept. 12 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

More information: The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more about acupuncture.

NIH Review Finds Nondrug Approaches Effective For Treatment of Common Pain Conditions

NIH Review Finds Nondrug Approaches Effective For Treatment of Common Pain Conditions

U.S. study reviews trial results on complementary health approaches for pain relief; aims to assist with pain management

Thursday, September 1, 2016

A review of 105 randomized controlled trials, which included more than 16,000 participants, shows that a variety of complementary health approaches may help manage pain. • Acupuncture• Massage therapy• Relaxation techniques• Tai chi• YogaCitation: Nahin RL, Boineau R, Khalsa PS, StussmanBJ, Weber WJ. Evidence-based evaluation of complementary health approaches for pain management in the United States. Mayo Clin Proc. September 2016;91(9):1292-1306.

Data from a review of U.S.-based clinical trials published today in Mayo Clinic Proceedings suggest that some of the most popular complementary health approaches—such as yoga, tai chi, and acupuncture—appear to be effective tools for helping to manage common pain conditions. The review was conducted by a group of scientists from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) at the National Institutes of Health.

Millions of Americans suffer from persistent pain that may not be fully relieved by medications. They often turn to complementary health approaches to help, yet primary care providers have lacked a robust evidence base to guide recommendations on complementary approaches as practiced and available in the United States. The new review gives primary care providers—who frequently see patients with chronic pain—tools to inform decisionmaking on how to help manage that pain.

“For many Americans who suffer from chronic pain, medications may not completely relieve pain and can produce unwanted side effects. As a result, many people may turn to nondrug approaches to help manage their pain,” said Richard L. Nahin, Ph.D., NCCIH’s lead epidemiologist and lead author of the analysis. “Our goal for this study was to provide relevant, high-quality information for primary care providers and for patients who suffer from chronic pain.”

The researchers reviewed 105 U.S.-based randomized controlled trials, from the past 50 years, that were relevant to pain patients in the United States and met inclusion criteria. Although the reporting of safety information was low overall, none of the clinical trials reported significant side effects due to the interventions.

The review focused on U.S.-based trial results on seven approaches used for one or more of five painful conditions—back pain, osteoarthritis, neck pain, fibromyalgia, and severe headaches and migraine—and found promise in the following for safety and effectiveness in treating pain:

  • Acupuncture and yoga for back pain
  • Acupuncture and tai chi for osteoarthritis of the knee
  • Massage therapy for neck pain with adequate doses and for short-term benefit
  • Relaxation techniques for severe headaches and migraine.

Though the evidence was weaker, the researchers also found that massage therapy, spinal manipulation, and osteopathic manipulation may provide some help for back pain, and relaxation approaches and tai chi might help people with fibromyalgia.

“These data can equip providers and patients with the information they need to have informed conversations regarding nondrug approaches for treatment of specific pain conditions,” said David Shurtleff, Ph.D., deputy director of NCCIH. “It’s important that continued research explore how these approaches actually work and whether these findings apply broadly in diverse clinical settings and patient populations.”

Read more about this report at nccih.nih.gov/pain_review.


About the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH):NCCIH’s mission is to define, through rigorous scientific investigation, the usefulness and safety of complementary and integrative health approaches and their roles in improving health and health care. For additional information, call NCCIH’s Clearinghouse toll free at 1-888-644-6226. Follow us on Twitter(link is external), Facebook(link is external), and YouTube(link is external).

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

NIH…Turning Discovery Into Health ®

 

Original Article Link

Cincinnati Acupuncture Clinic is an NCCAOM Certified Provider

Call 513-288-4448 to setup a consultation.