Can Acupuncture Help Alleviate Constipation?
Constipation is often the subject of jokes, but the problem isn't so funny when it becomes a chronic issue. Although medications and laxatives can be helpful, these measures only offer short-term relief. As soon as you stop using them, constipation returns. Acupuncture offers long-term relief and can help you end your reliance on pills and laxatives.
How Does Acupuncture Help?
Constipation occurs when your bowel movements occur less than three times per week or you have trouble passing stool. Certain illnesses or conditions, such as diabetes, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, or stroke, can cause constipation, but sometimes it occurs for no known reason.
As days pass without a successful bathroom visit, you may begin to experience the unpleasant consequences of constipation, such as cramps and bloating. Although you'll have no trouble passing gas, having a successful bowel movement may seem impossible. Eventually, you may begin to feel lethargic and more than a little irritable.
Unfortunately, the problem can persist no matter what changes you make in your diet or your habits. If constipation becomes a chronic issue, you may develop hemorrhoids or anal fissures as a result of straining to produce a bowel movement, experience fecal impaction, or suffer from a prolapsed rectum.
Acupuncture treatments relieve constipation by eliminating blockages of Qi, the life force that travels through your body through a network of meridians. Blockages can cause a variety of health problems, ranging from constipation to back pain to skin conditions. Once the blockages are eliminated, both Qi and blood flow improves, which helps your gastrointestinal system operate more efficiently.
Treatments help relieve constipation by:
- Improving Peristalsis. Peristalsis occurs when involuntary contractions push waste material through your digestive tract. If you're constipated, your peristaltic movements may be weaker than normal. Poor peristalsis can cause too much water to be absorbed from stools. As a result, the stools become hard and difficult to pass.
- Mediating Medication Side Effects. Anti-depressants, asthma medications, high blood pressure drugs, and other medications may cause constipation, yet stopping these medications could prove harmful to your health. Regular acupuncture sessions can help ease constipation due to medication side effects.
- Easier Bowel Movements. Acupuncture can make bowel movements more comfortable and decrease straining.
- More Bowel Movements. Thanks to your treatments, you may once again produce three or more bowel movements per week.
- Fewer Symptoms. Pain, bloating, bleeding, and fatigue tend to decrease with acupuncture treatments.
- Less Stress. Stress can play a role in constipation. Unfortunately, the longer constipation occurs, the more stressed you may feel. Acupuncture treatments decrease the production of stress hormones, release endorphins that act as natural painkillers, and help you feel calmer.
Is Acupuncture Really Effective?
Several research studies have proven that acupuncture is an effective treatment for constipation. In a Chinese study, 31 percent of electroacupuncture patients had bowel movements three times or more in a week compared to just 12 percent in the control group. Positive results continued as long as three months after the treatments ended. Electroacupuncture involves attaching acupuncture needles to a low-voltage electrical current to enhance the effects of the treatment.
In another study, researchers discovered that the combination of acupuncture and herbal remedies helped elderly patients suffering from constipation. Patients who received acupuncture and herbal remedies had a long-term improvement rate of 88 percent, while those who only took medication experienced a 45 percent improvement rate. Herbal medications strengthen the effects of acupuncture and can play an important role in your treatment.
Chronic constipation doesn't have to make your life miserable. Acupuncture offers a safe, long-lasting treatment option for the painful problem. Contact us if you would like to find out if acupuncture can help you.
HealthDay: Can Acupuncture Ease Severe Constipation?: 9/12/16
American Journal of Chinese Medicine: Efficacy of Acupuncture for Chronic Constipation: A Systematic Review, 2013
BM Journals: Comparison of Electroacupuncture and Medical Treatment for Functional Constipation: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, 2016
Mayo Clinic: Constipation
Annals of Internal Medicine: Acupuncture for Chronic Severe Functional Constipation: A Randomized Trial, 12/6/16
Health CMI: Acupuncture Moves Stool, Relieves Constipation, 6/16/16