Digestive disorders


Some Context for you

Around 2-4 in 1,000 people in Northern Europe have ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease (Rubin 2000).

Both are chronic, relapsing, inflammatory disorders of the gastrointestinal tract with several shared clinical features, but with largely distinct risk factors, genetic, immunological, anatomical and histological features, and response to therapy (DTB 2003).

Their treatment, which includes medical and surgical approaches, is usually considered in two phases:

the induction of remission in an acute attack, and the long-term maintenance of remission (DTB 2003).

Acupuncture has been found superior to sham acupuncture for disease activity scores in Chrohns Disease and Ulcerative Colitis (Joos 2006; Joos 2006; Schneider 2007).

 In comparisons with Western drug treatments acupuncture has been found beneficial for a variety of gastrointestinal diseases: dyspepsia (Chen 2005), gastritis (Ren 2009; Gu 2009), ulcerative colitis (Mu 2007; Lee 2009), reflux (Journal of the National Medical Association 2008; Zhang 2010) and pancreatitis (Wang 2007).

Nevertheless most systematic reviews have been reluctant to endorse acupuncture because of the generally poor quality, and hence unreliability, of the studies to date (Schneider 2007; Lee 2009).

Acupuncture may help in the treatment of GI tract disorders, by: inhibiting gastric and duodenal motility by activating sympathetic nerves via spinal reflexes,

  increasing motility via the vagus nerve and supraspinal reflexes (Chang 2001; Takahashi 2006; Sehn 2006; Yao 2006; Noguchi 2008).

altering acid secretion, and visceral pain (Takahashi 2006)

improving delayed gastric emptying (Xu 2006) reducing inflammation, by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors (Zijlstra 2003)

stimulating areas in the brain that are involved in gastric perception (Zeng 2009)

inhibiting stress-induced pro-opiomelanocortin expression in the hypothalamus (Sun 2008)

increasing vasoactive intestinal peptide and nitric oxide in plasma, gastric mucosal and elevating expression of vasoactive intestinal peptide in antral smooth muscle (Shen 2006)

decreasing permeability of intestinal mucosa in patients with acute pancreatitis, and reducing accumulation of endogenous inflammatory mediators and vascular active substance in intestinal mucosa (Wang 2007).


all this information is taken from the british acupuncture website www.acupuncture.org.uk so grab yourself a cup of tea and have a read