The main benefits of acupuncture for constipation are less physical strain during evacuation and more frequent bowel movements. The effectiveness of acupuncture has been observed in studies of constipated children and in anecdotal evidence presented by acupuncturists and their patients. In Chinese medicine, the causes of constipation are attributed to excesses or deficiencies in the body. Some causes, it is believed, respond better to acupuncture treatments than others. In cases of severe or sudden constipation, the causes might be linked to serious medical issues that are in need of examination by a medical doctor.
Acupuncturists typically distinguish between conditions of excess and deficiency when applying acupuncture for constipation. Qi, pronounced "chee," is defined as the life force or energy that must flow freely throughout the body for optimal health. Stagnation of this energy might result in dry stool and difficult bowel movements, and it is believed that stimulating the flow of energy helps relieve constipation. If the constipation is caused by blood deficiencies, acupuncture is believed to be less efficient in addressing the problem, requiring a longer treatment duration and herbal supplementation. Conditions of extra heat and excess that cause difficult elimination, bad breath and a flushed appearance typically respond well to acupuncture treatments.
Acupuncture for constipation involves the use of acupuncture needles and their strategic placement in specific points throughout the body. The needles might be kept in place for a short time or a long duration, depending on the condition. Through manual rotation of the needles or the transmission of mild electric currents, the energy points are stimulated. In addition to this technique, acupuncturists might use cupping, herbs and/or acupressure.
The benefits of acupuncture for constipation have been examined in children who were constipated for a minimum of six months. They received five initial acupuncture sessions as a placebo, and the following 10 acupuncture sessions applied traditional acupuncture techniques. The findings indicated that the children experienced an increase in bowel movement frequency. Other accounts of acupuncture effectiveness for constipation also have been reported in the form of anecdotal evidence by acupuncturists in their private practices.
Acupuncture for constipation sometimes involves a combination of diet and lifestyle changes. Patients might be advised to go to the bathroom as soon as they feel the urge rather than delaying the process. Drinking enough water on a daily basis and eating adequate fiber are thought to help the condition. Some acupuncturists advise against taking laxatives or colonics, because these practices might disrupt intestinal balance. If constipation persists, patients typically are advised to see a medical doctor who can perform tests and rule out serious medical conditions.