SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

We read the article published by Ma et al.[1] with great interest. The authors concluded that acupuncture is effective in the treatment of functional dyspepsia using specific acupoints.

The last decade has seen a growing interest in complementary and alternative medicine techniques, especially among patients with chronic medical disorders.[2] Acupuncture has been utilised in various gastrointestinal disorders, demonstrating a significant effect on acid secretion, gastrointestinal motility, neurohormonal levels and sensory perception thresholds for pain.[3, 4]

The study by Ma and colleagues emphasises the importance of sticking to specific acupoints, which are related to the stomach meridian, when treating patients with functional dyspepsia. Overall, the acupuncture effect was most prominent in early satiation, although some effect was also observed in postprandial fullness, epigastric pain and burning. The authors did not embark on functional assessment of the oesophagus and stomach, and thus the underlying mechanism of symptom improvement in this study is unknown.

Surprisingly, sham acupuncture in this study was significantly inferior to the other acupuncture groups, regardless of the specific acupoints. There is increasing recognition in the acupuncture literature that superficial (needling of the skin), sham (needling on non-acupuncture points) and placebo (needling with blunt tip that does not penetrate the skin) acupuncture also provides an active therapeutic effect.[5] This is particularly the case in pain conditions that are predominantly associated with an affective component.[6] It is likely that control procedures used in many acupuncture studies aimed at being inert may activate the C tactile afferents that alleviate unpleasantness and re-establish patients' sense of well being.[5]

Because functional dyspepsia is a chronic disorder with exacerbations and remissions, it remains to be elucidated how long the acupuncture treatment should last and what is the durability of its effect.

Acknowledgement

  1. Top of page
  2. Acknowledgement
  3. References

Declaration of personal and funding interests: None.

References

  1. Top of page
  2. Acknowledgement
  3. References