Scientific Study Shows Acupuncture May Be Effective for Easing Indigestion Symptoms

Acupuncture Treatment Belly

Acupuncture treatment.

A 4-week course of acupuncture increased self-reported relief and improvement of symptoms for patients with a subtype of indigestion known as postprandial distress syndrome (PDS). The effects of acupuncture persisted through the 12-week follow-up without symptom relapse or rebound. Findings from a randomized clinical trial are published in Annals of Internal Medicine.

PDS, a condition characterized by bothersome early fullness after eating and upper abdominal bloating, places a substantial burden on the health care system because of its high prevalence in a relatively young patient population and the chronic relapsing nature of its symptoms. The condition is reported to have a great negative effect on health-related quality of life, which makes finding an effective treatment imperative. Previous studies on acupuncture have been limited by the small number of participants and poor study quality.

Researchers from the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine randomly assigned 278 Chinese patients with PDS to 12 sessions of acupuncture or sham acupuncture over 4 weeks and then compared the proportion of patients in each group who reported “extreme improvement” or “improvement” in their stomach symptoms as well as the proportion of patients who experienced complete resolution of their symptoms. They found that a significantly higher proportion of patients in the acupuncture group experienced overall improvement or elimination of their symptoms than in the sham acupuncture group. The improvement was sustained for at least 12 weeks after the final acupuncture treatment and there were no serious adverse events among the study patients.

Reference: “Effect of Acupuncture for Postprandial Distress Syndrome” by Jing-Wen Yang, MD, Ph.D.; Li-Qiong Wang, MD, Ph.D.; Xuan Zou, MM; Shi-Yan Yan, Ph.D.; Yu Wang, MM; Jing-Jie Zhao, MD; Jian-Feng Tu, MD, Ph.D.; Jun Wang, MD, Ph.D.; Guang-Xia Shi, MD, Ph.D.; Hui Hu, MD, Ph.D.; Wei Zhou, MB; Yi Du, MD, Ph.D. and Cun-Zhi Liu, MD, Ph.D., 11 May 2020,  Annals of Internal Medicine.
DOI: 10.7326/M19-2880

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