Acupuncture May Be Effective at Reducing Indigestion Symptoms
Researchers in China say a 4-week course of acupuncture appears to relieve symptoms of postprandial distress syndrome (PDS), a form of indigestion characterized by early fullness after eating and upper abdominal bloating.
In Western medicine, PDS is usually treated with antacid medications, such as Tagamet, Pepcid, and Axid.
But researchers from the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine say acupuncture could be a safe and effective alternative.
In a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, 278 study participants with PDS were given either 12 sessions of acupuncture over 4 weeks or received “sham” acupuncture.
The study found that participants who received actual acupuncture were significantly more likely to report “improvement” or “extreme improvement” in their symptoms.
How acupuncture works
Jamie Bacharach, DiplAc, a medical acupuncturist at Acupuncture Jerusalem, told Healthline that gastrointestinal issues trail only pain among the reasons that her clients seek acupuncture.
“A lot of people come in with similar symptoms” of PDS, she said. “Western medicine often doesn’t do well with these conditions.”
According to Bacharach, acupuncture “manipulates the flow of energy along the meridians of the body and get it moving in the direction it is supposed to be going.”
Just as gastrointestinal disorders may be seen as problems with the movement of food through the stomach and intestines, she says, acupuncture seeks to address the counterflow of energy through the body.
Acupuncturists may treat conditions like PDS by inserting needles far from the source of the problem.
There are a couple of acupuncture points on the outer calf below the knee that are really great for digestive issues, and on the inner wrist for abdominal fullness.
Other practitioners, however, would prefer to go straight to the stomach.