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We read the commentary from Oh and Fass and appreciate their opinions on our study.[1, 2]

In our study, the sham acupuncture (superficial needling on non-acupoints) also provided an active therapeutic effect, but was significantly inferior to the acupuncture groups A, B, C in terms of improvement in symptoms and quality of life. Whether sham acupuncture is as effective as real acupuncture is still under debate, but more and more clinical trials[3-5] and brain image studies[6-8] in recent years have given the affirmative answer.

In this study, no difference was detected in relieving the epigastric pain syndrome subcategory symptoms between sham acupuncture and the other acupuncture groups. Another acupuncture study for migraine by our group also showed similar results[9]: the differences between the acupuncture and sham acupuncture groups did not become significant until 4 weeks after treatment. Considering the results from other acupuncture studies for pain,[10] we think acupuncture works in different way in relieving pain and other symptoms.

As the author stated, functional dyspepsia may be self-healing. We have mentioned this as one limitation in our study. But the study design is acceptable, because all the patients had the potential for exacerbation or remission of symptoms, and were randomly recruited and assigned to each group, and such design can be seen in previous trials for functional gastrointestinal disorder treated by drugs.[11, 12]

So, although the intervention of our trial is not the optimal treatment programme for functional dyspepsia, acupuncture is helpful in functional dyspepsia treatment, and probably more effective with a personalised acupoint-selection protocol.

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