East West Acupuncture

East West Acupuncture

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Digestive Disorders


Intestinal Motility

Acupuncture is often described as activating a “homeostatic mechanism,” and can either excite or suppress intestinal motor activity. For example, in patients with hyperactive intestinal motility, acupuncture has a suppressing effect. In cases of sluggish peristalsis, acupuncture has a promoting effect. Acupuncture has been shown to reverse the increase in motility caused by vagostigmin and the decrease in motility caused by atropine. (Iwa & Sakita, 1994). Thus it can treat both diarrhea and constipation. One practical application of acupuncture may be to reverse the inhibition of intestinal peristalsis induced by epidural or intrathecal opioids (Dai et al 1993). Acupuncture may also be used to reduce postoperative pain and reduce ileus time, if given pre- and post-operatively.

Tatewaki M, Harris M, Uemura K, Ueno T, Hoshino E, Shiotani A, Pappas TN, Takahashi T. Dual effects of acupuncture on gastric motility in conscious rats. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 2003 Oct;285(4):R862-72. "The effects of manual acupuncture on gastric motility were investigated in 35 conscious rats implanted with a strain gauge transducer. Twenty (57.1%) rats showed no cyclic groupings of strong contractions (type A), whereas 15 (42.9%) rats showed the phase III-like contractions of the migrating motor complex (type B) in the fasting gastric motility. Acupuncture at the stomach (ST)-36 (Zusanli), but not on the back [Weishu, bladder (BL)-21], increased the peak amplitude of contractions to 172.4 +/- 25.6% of basal in the type A rats (n = 20, P < 0.05). On the other hand, the motility index for 60 min after the acupuncture was not affected by the acupuncture in this group. On the contrary, acupuncture decreased the peak amplitude and motility index to 72.9 +/- 14.0% and 73.6 +/- 16.2% in the type B rats (n = 15, P < 0.05), respectively. The stimulatory and inhibitory effects of acupuncture observed in each type were reproducible on the separate days. In 70% of type A rats, acupuncture induced strong phase III-like contractions lasting for over 3 h that were abolished by atropine, hexamethonium, atropine methyl bromide, and vagotomy. Naloxone significantly shortened the duration of the stimulatory effects from 3.52 +/- 0.21 to 1.02 +/- 0.15 h (n = 3, P < 0.05). These results suggest that acupuncture at ST-36 induces dual effects, either stimulatory or inhibitory, on gastric motility. The stimulatory effects are mediated in part via vagal efferent and opioid pathways."

Li Y, Tougas G, Chiverton S G, Hunt R 11 1992 The effect of acupuncture on gastrointestinal function and disorders. American Journal of Gastroenterology 87:1372-1381

Iwa M, Sakita M 1994 Effects of acupuncture and moxibustion on intestinal motility in mice. American Journal of Chinese Medicine 22:119-125

Dai J-L, Ren Z J, Fu Z M, Zhu Y 11, Xu S F 1993 Electroacupuncture reversed the inhibition of intestinal peristalsis induced by intrathecal injection of morphine in rabbits. Chinese Medical Journal 106:220-224.

Yuan C, Li R, Zhu J, Jin N, Zhang D, Yan C 1986 The curative effect and mechanism of action of the acupoints pishu and weishu. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine 6: 249-252

He Z, Yie X, Gong H 1986 Acupuncture can influence the motive function of the stomach and intestine. Chen Tzu Yen Chin 282-283

Wan Q. Auricular-plaster therapy plus acupuncture at zusanli for postoperative recovery of intestinal function. J Tradit Chin Med. 2000 Jun;20(2):134-5.