Constipation & Acupuncture: A Systematic Review

Posted in For Patients


Last week, we spoke specifically about a study that targeted tumor patients suffering from acute opioid-induced constipation (OIC) and its effective treatment with acupuncture. This week, let’s zoom out a little.


Many studies corroborate the finding that acupuncture can mitigate a variety of the side effects that result from opioid use, but a recent systematic review gives us a much bigger picture of acupuncture’s applications in this area.


What’s the purpose of a systematic review?


Typically, when a host of research exists on a similar topic, a systematic review will act as both a summary and a quality control mechanism for a group of independently designed studies. In this case, the systematic review was done on the “efficacy of traditional chinese medicine for the management of constipation” and included both randomized controlled trials and controlled clinical trials.


Reviewers collected these studies from across both English and non-English language medical databases, including the Cochrane library, MEDLINE, CINAHL, AMED, EMBASE, China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), and the Chinese Electronic Periodical Services (CEPS). The review included 137 studies, and evaluated all of them on the basis of their design and results. Trial design was measured using the Jadad scale, which is the most widely used way for researchers to independently assess the methodological quality of a clinical trial.  


How did acupuncture studies fare?


Under the larger umbrella of the review, which found the efficacy of traditional chinese medicine in managing constipation to be “significantly positive” in comparison to control groups, acupuncture treatments were found to be among the most successful.


In the three acupuncture-specific studies deemed to have the highest design quality, treatment groups receiving acupuncture were compared against control groups that received either conventional medicine or sennae folium, an herbal remedy for constipation. In each study, the treatment group receiving acupuncture saw significantly better results than the control group.


Why wait?


Across the board, and in studies since, acupuncture has stood out as an alternative to traditional medicine and its side-effect laden aftermath. Whether chronic, opioid-induced, or related to another health issue, don’t let constipation and the limitations of traditional treatments lower your quality of life. The evidence is in: short, regular acupuncture sessions can stimulate your digestive tract and re-adjust your body’s natural signaling systems for results that are more comfortable and reliable than traditionally prescribed methods.
See how acupuncture can get you feeling good again. Get in touch for a consultation today.

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