Acupuncture has been used to manage chronic constipation, but evidence of its effectiveness is limited. In this multicenter trial from China, researchers randomized 1075 patients (age range, 17–85; 76% women) with chronic severe functional constipation (i.e., fewer than 3 complete spontaneous bowel movements [BMs] weekly) to receive electroacupuncture (EA) or sham EA; patients underwent 28 sessions during 8 weeks and were followed for 12 additional weeks after treatments ended.
At baseline, the mean number of BMs weekly was approximately 0.4 in both groups. At 8 weeks, increases from baseline in mean weekly BMs were 1.76 in the EA group and 0.87 in the sham EA group — a significant difference. Differences between groups remained significant through the end of follow-up. The proportion of patients who had three or more mean weekly BMs during follow-up was significantly greater in the EA group than in the sham EA group (38% vs. 14%).
Liu Z et al. Acupuncture for chronic severe functional constipation: A randomized, controlled trial. Ann Intern Med 2016 Sep 13; [e-pub]. (http://dx.doi.org/10.7326/M15-3118)