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Digestive Disorders

Gastritis and Ulcer
It is well known that Acupuncture is effective for the treatment of gastric disease. Liu and his colleagues observed the fluorohistochemical changes of gastric mucosal cells in 42 patients with gastric diseases.

• In patients with duodenal ulcer the intensity of gastrin in the C cells was decreased and in patients with chronic atrophic gastritis the amount of gastrin in the G cells was increased by acupuncture treatment in patients.

This suggests that Acupuncture may regulate the gastric function and change what is abnormal to normal in gastric mucosa of gastric disease.
Acupuncture Research, 1994, 19(2):7-8

Gastric Reflux and Acidity
1) Considerable clinical studies and research show excellent results from Acupuncture treatment on the diseases of the digestive system.
For example, needling Acupuncture point Stomach 36 causes increased peristalsis in the stomach, with stomach emptying time being shortened and another point Co 12 can increase peristalsis in the small intestine, and yet another point can produce peristalsis in the colon.

The Shanghai College of Traditional Medicine proved in their experiments that Acupuncture can have an effect on regulating gastrointestinal hypoacidity, as well as hyperacidity. Needling certain points helps to regulate the secretion of gastric juice (if the general acidity of the stomach was previously low, it is raised; if previously high, it is lowered) and aids in restoring balance to a diseased stomach. In patients suffering from gastric ulcers, Acupuncture reduces the secretion of gastric juices and tends to bring the general acidity to a normal level, and in cholecystitis (Gall Bladder disease) it increases the gastric acid level if low.

2)Acupuncture's effects on transient lower esophageal sphincter relaxations(TLESRs).
Since TLESRs are “the most important mechanism of acid reflux in normal subjects and patients with GERD (gastric reflux),” they were targeted for study.
“It was an out-of-left-field approach, without any real expectations that it might work,” according to Richard H. Holloway, in whose Royal Adelaide Hospital laboratory the work was done, “but we had well-defined technology and measurements for studying GERD.” The protocol utilized electrical acupoint stimulation, a high-tech type of acupuncture, with a GERD model imposed on normal subjects by inflating a balloon in their stomachs.

In two separate studies, barely perceptible stimulation was applied at the acupoint known as Neiguan on the wrist. “This reduced TLESRs by a very significant 40% -- from six an hour to 3.5 an hour,” Holloway said. The paper added that the rate of TLESRs during the acupoint stimulation “was significantly lower than that during both the baseline period without any stimulation (six per hour, with a range of five to eight), and the period of sham stimulation at the hip (six per hour; range: four to eight) with a probability value of < 0.02.”

Addressing the mechanisms of action, the paper said: “Whether gastric distension triggers TLESRs through tension or stretch receptors remains controversial. Nevertheless, because the distension volume [in the experiments] was kept constant and because acupoint stimulation did not affect gastric pressure, it seems unlikely that it was acting through alterations in gastric motility. The mechanism of inhibitory effect of electric acupoint stimulation on triggering of TLESRs thus remains to be elucidated.”
D. Zou, August, American Journal of Physiology-Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology, published by the American Physiological Society

Irritable Bowel Syndrome
1) A randomized, controlled trial of 27 patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) was presented at the 65th Annual Meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology. The study provided six acupuncture treatments over a two-week period to one group, and relaxation exercises to the other.

Both groups experienced initial relief of pain, but only in the acupuncture group did the results persist four weeks later. Furthermore, only the acupuncture group experienced a significant reduction in stress perception.

The authors concluded that acupuncture is an effective form of treatment for IBS, particularly the pain and stress symptoms, and that its benefits exceed that of standard relaxation treatment.

2) The role of acupuncture in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: a pilot study.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: The aim of this pilot study was to investigate the potential value of acupuncture in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
METHODOLOGY: The study was an open design study of 7 patients with established irritable bowel syndrome in which assessment was by a diary card.
RESULTS: The results showed a significant improvement both in general well-being and in symptoms of bloating.
CONCLUSIONS: Acupuncture seems to be effective in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome and merits further study.
Chan J, Carr I, Mayberry JF, Gastrointestinal Research Unit, Leicester General Hospital, England.

Acupuncture for gastrointestinal and hepatobiliary disorders

Acupuncture has been used for various gastrointestinal (GI) conditions. Voluminous data support the effect of acupuncture on the physiology of the GI tract, including acid secretion, motility, neurohormonal changes, and changes in sensory thresholds. Much of the neuroanatomic pathway of these effects has been identified in animal models.

A large body of clinical evidence supports the effectiveness of acupuncture for suppressing nausea associated with chemotherapy, postoperative state, and pregnancy. Prospective randomized controlled trials have also shown the efficacy of acupuncture for analgesia for endoscopic procedures, including colonoscopy and upper endoscopy.

Acupuncture has also been used for a variety of other conditions including postoperative ileus, achalasia, peptic ulcer disease, functional bowel diseases (including irritable bowel syndrome and nonulcer dyspepsia), diarrhea, constipation, inflammatory bowel disease, expulsion of gallstones and biliary ascariasis, and pain associated with pancreatitis.

Although there are few prospective randomized clinical studies, the well-documented physiological basis of acupuncture effects on the GI tract, and the extensive history of successful clinical use of acupuncture, makes this a promising modality that warrants further investigation.
Division of Digestive Diseases, UCLA School of Medicine,USA PMID 10100029 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLIN]

Ulcerative Colitis
1) Acupuncture Superior to Drugs for Ulcerative Colitis
Seventy-eight patients diagnosed with ulcerative colitis were randomized to receive either a combination of acupuncture, plum-blossom needling and cupping treatments, or a mixture of drugs used to reduce inflammation and treat infections.
Results showed the acupuncture treatments to be much more effective n treating the disorder than the drug combination.

SOURCE: Zhang Y, Yang Z. Ulcerative colitis treated by acupuncture: a report of 43 cases. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine June 2005; 25(2):83-84.