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Gastrointestinal Health Treatment Using Houston Acupuncture Services
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Acupuncture Can Support Gastrointestinal Health and Provide Relief From Many GI Symptoms

According to the National Institutes of Health, up to 70 million people in the U.S. are suffering from a gastrointestinal disease. For millions of these patients, their GI condition is a source of ongoing frustration and discomfort. Because the GI system is complex and influenced by many factors, it’s frequently difficult for doctors to diagnose and treat GI conditions with consistency.

However, GI conditions can be debilitating, so an increasing number of patients are turning to alternative therapies to address their symptoms. That includes eastern medical therapies like acupuncture and herbal therapy. In fact, U.S. practitioners administer more than 10 million acupuncture treatments every year.

Acupuncture, herbal therapy, and other eastern modalities have demonstrated efficacy and promise with an array of GI conditions. That’s why many practices are using it as an adjunct therapy for their patients.

What Gastrointestinal Conditions Can Acupuncture and Eastern Therapies Help With?

Acupuncture, moxibustion (heat therapy) and herbal therapy have been used to great effect in patients for centuries. Today, practitioners use them to treat a large number of GI conditions, including:

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

IBS is one of the most common health disorders in the U.S., affecting up to 15 percent of the population. It’s characterized by a cluster of GI symptoms, including abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea and bloating. An emerging theory of IBS is that it’s caused by dysfunction in nerve activity between the gut and brain.
Acupuncture activates the body’s nervous system, which may be why it’s a popular alternative for IBS patients. Two studies (published in 2017 and 2020) and one review (published in 2014) all showed that acupuncture could help with IBS symptoms. Researchers recommended acupuncture as an adjunct and believed that its efficacy with anxiety and stress (both of which can worsen IBS symptoms) may have also played a factor.

Gastritis and Ulcers

Gastritis is inflammation of the stomach lining, and it often appears along with ulcers. There are many causes, such as stress, age, bacterial infection, and pain reliever use. In every instance, the symptoms include a burning pain in the upper abdomen and may include nausea and vomiting as well.
A 2019 animal study showed that acupuncture increased the availability of certain biomarkers associated with better gastritis and ulcer outcomes. Specifically, in the rats that received acupuncture, there was an increase of proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), substance P (a peptide), and neurotensin (another peptide).

Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease causes widespread inflammation in the GI tract, and along with significant discomfort, it can produce anxiety and serious complications like malnutrition and intestinal obstructions.
Acupuncture, and electroacupuncture in particular, is considered a promising support therapy for the condition. In a 2014 study, researchers combined electroacupuncture (the use of electrically-stimulated needles) and moxibustion to treat Crohn’s symptoms. After 12 weeks of treatment, 74 percent of the experimental group had gone into Crohn’s remission, while only 36 percent of the control group had.

Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis (UC) is another GI inflammatory condition, this one localized to the large intestine and colon. It can also cause ulcers in the colon, which can result in diarrhea, abdominal pain, and bloody stools.
UC is normally treated with medications, but it’s a lifelong condition that can’t be cured through treatment. As such, many patients look to additional support therapies like acupuncture for additional relief.
A 2016 review of 63 studies found that acupuncture and moxibustion were effective in the treatment of UC. Acupuncture can stimulate the release of the body’s own painkillers, and it’s possible that this was a major factor.


Although there is little research into the efficacy of acupuncture on hemorrhoids, there are numerous case studies that suggest promising outcomes. In these case studies, patients experienced less discomfort and swelling after several weeks of treatment.

Intestinal Pseudo-Obstruction

Intestinal pseudo-obstruction is characterized by motility issues in the small or large intestine, meaning the intestines cannot properly push through food, stool and air. Pseudo-obstructions can produce serious, even life-threatening complications.
Like with hemorrhoids, there isn’t a formal study into acupuncture and pseudo-obstruction, but there are promising case studies that suggest efficacy. Specifically, these case studies point out reductions in abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting.

Nausea associated with Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is associated with several unpleasant side effects, including neuropathy and nausea. So far, studies suggest that acupuncture can help with these symptoms. While research is still in its opening stages, one 2020 study showed a modest improvement in nausea severity between an experimental group that received acupuncture, and a control group that received a placebo.

Diarrhea and Constipation

Acupuncture is also an effective support treatment for patients experiencing regular constipation or diarrhea. In fact, a 2018 study showed that acupuncture was more effective than drug therapy in treating diarrhea related to IBS. Other studies have shown similar results in treating constipation.
Practitioners believe that acupuncture stimulates peristalsis, or intestinal movement. By regulating peristalsis, acupuncture also regulates proper digestion and bowel emptying.

If Medication isn’t Providing Sufficient Relief for your Gastrointestinal Symptoms, Acupuncture Services May Help

Digestive disorders can cause debilitating symptoms, like severe pain and nausea. These are symptoms that acupuncture and other eastern modalities are well-equipped to treat, and without the side effects associated with drug therapy.

If your GI condition isn’t responding to standard treatments as well as you’d like, then acupuncture, moxibustion and herbal therapies may be an option. The research shows that these therapies can be an effective adjunctive option and help improve symptoms with minimal adverse effects.

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