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Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Chronic Constipation

By: Vanessa Vogel Batt L.Ac. MSOM

In 2015, the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine published a study entitled "Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Chronic Constipation." Researchers performed a thorough analysis of many past scientific studies and meta-analyses on the use of acupuncture to address symptoms of chronic constipation. Chronic constipation means a maximum of only three bowel movements a week, which lasts for several months at a time.

The investigations led researchers to some promising conclusions regarding the use of traditional hand-applied acupuncture and electroacupuncture (EA). The application of EA involves the use of an electric current attached to acupuncture needles. Both methods of acupuncture showed great benefit for the many symptoms of chronic constipation and yielded no negative side effects.

Acupuncture and EA helped relieve multiple symptoms including:

  • increasing the weekly total of natural bowel movements
  • reducing abdominal pain
  • reducing difficulty with defecation
  • stopping the sensation of needing to defecate but then not being able to produce a movement reducing dependency on laxatives.

Quality of life scores and psychological symptoms also showed significant improvements. EA also provided evidence that it can relieve chronic constipation more effectively than pharmaceutical drugs.

Xinjun Wang and Jieyun Yin, "Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Chronic Constipation," Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2015, Article ID 396396, 11 pages, 2015. doi:10.1155/2015/396396 Retrieved online at

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About the Author: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM, studied at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and practiced acupuncture and Oriental medicine in New York for several years. Vanessa enjoys traveling the world, and has published articles on acupuncture and Oriental medicine and related health topics for websites and publications in both the U.S. and abroad.

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