New research concludes that acupuncture is effective in the treatment of dyspepsia. Dyspepsia is indigestion- also known as an upset stomach. It involves symptoms including abdominal pain, bloating, an uncomfortable sensation of heaviness or fullness after eating, nausea, belching and heartburn. Dyspepsia is often linked to GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), gastritis and gastrointestinal ulcers. In many cases, dyspepsia is not linked to an underlying organic disease. In biomedicine, dyspepsia is often treated with PPIs (proton pump inhibitors), which are a class of drugs known for the treatment of heartburn. However, long term use of PPIs is linked to gastric cell atrophy, which may lead to cancer.
Researchers examined a total sample size of 712 patients. They were randomly assigned to 6 groups. Group 1 received specific acupuncture points on the stomach (Leg Yangming) meridian. Group 2 received non-specific acupoints on the stomach meridian. Group 3 received acupuncture on alarm points and transport points. Group 4 received acupuncture on the gallbladder (Leg Shaoyang) meridan. Group 5 received sham acupuncture, which uses acupuncture needles applied to non-acupuncture points. Group 6 was administered itopride. Itopride is a drug made for the treatment of dyspepsia and many gastrointestinal disorders. It is a prokinetic benzamide.
Patients received 5 acupuncture treatments per week for a period of 4 weeks. Follow-up was documented 12 weeks following the treatment period. All groups improved, however, Group 1 had over a 70 percent success rate. Group 1 received specific acupuncture points on the stomach meridian. The group with the lowest success rate was the sham acupuncture group with only a 34.75 percent improvement. The researchers concluded, “Acupuncture is effective in the treatment of functional dyspepsia, and is superior to non-acupoint puncture. The benefit of acupuncture relies on acupoint specificity.”
Ma, T. T., Yu, S. Y., Li, Y., Liang, F. R., Tian, X. P., Zheng, H., Yan, J., Sun, G. J., Chang, X. R., Zhao, L., Wu, X. and Zeng, F. (2012), Randomised clinical trial: an assessment of acupuncture on specific meridian or specific acupoint vs. sham acupuncture for treating functional dyspepsia. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 35: 552–561. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2011.04979.x
Teaching Hospital of Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chengdu, Sichuan, China
Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chengdu, Sichuan, China
Hunan University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Changsha, Hunan, China
Hubei University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Wuhan, Hubei, China