Clinical trials demonstrate that acupuncture relieves chronic constipation and produces greater long-term patient outcomes than drugs.
Acupuncture is safe and effective for the treatment of functional constipation, often referred to as chronic idiopathic constipation (CIC). This type of constipation does not have a known anatomical or physiological etiology in biomedicine. CIC often involves infrequent defecation, hard stools, straining during bowel movements, and incomplete evacuation of stools. Secondary symptoms include stomach cramping, pain, and abdominal bloating or distention.
The study examines the efficaciousness of front mu (ST25) and back shu (BL25) acupoints of the large intestine meridian. This approach is consistent with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) principles. The large intestine foot-yangming channel is often an integral aspect to treatments for constipation.
The researchers note that functional constipation is classified in the Da Bian Nan (difficulty in bowel movement) category in TCM. They cite prior research indicating that acupuncture effectively treats the root causes of constipation. As a result, acupuncture patients have lower relapse rates than patients having taken mosapride, a medication used to facilitate bowel movements. Although the drug is effective, the research indicates a relatively high relapse rate (54.2%) following discontinuation of the drug. The researchers add that acupuncture is effective without significant adverse effects whereas mosapride may cause loose stools, dizziness, headaches, insomnia, abdominal pain, and borborygmi. Mosapride is a serotonin 5HT₄-receptor agonist and serotonin 5HT₃-receptor antagonist that is a gastroprokinetic agent.
In this study, the classic front mu and back shu combination achieved an 82.56% total effective rate.