Acupuncture may help relieve indigestion, a new study suggests.
Chinese researchers did a controlled experiment to test acupuncture as a treatment for postprandial distress syndrome, or P.D.S., a common type of chronic indigestion characterized by an unpleasant sense of fullness after eating, sometimes accompanied by pain and burning in the throat and stomach. It has no obvious cause.
The study, in the Annals of Internal Medicine, randomized 228 otherwise healthy patients with P.D.S. to receive either acupuncture three times a week for four weeks, or a sham treatment that looked similar but did not involve the accurate placement and manipulation of needles. All the participants completed questionnaires about their symptoms — fullness, bloating, pain, burning, and so on — before and after the treatments.
In the acupuncture group, 83 percent had some benefits from the treatment, compared with 52 percent of the controls. In the treatment group, 28 percent achieved complete elimination of post-meal fullness, bloating and early satiation, compared with 17 percent of those who received the placebo treatment.
The senior author, Dr. Cun-Zhi Liu of the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, said that there are drugs to treat P.D.S., but their efficacy is limited and their side effect sometimes intolerable. “If patients get acupuncture treatment from a trained professional,” he said, “they may feel improvement within two to four weeks.”