Can Acupuncture Help With Acid Reflux & IBS?

As the virtual promotional tour for my latest Easy 5-Ingredient Acid Reflux Cookbook  continues to proceed full steam ahead, so too does my curiosity with the role of alternative treatment modalities in the world of digestive health.

I know that public interest around unconventional or alternative treatments tends to be quite high, but that the evidence to support some of these treatments is sometimes lacking.

That certainly isn’t the case for acupuncture and digestive health – as I’ve encountered a notable body of evidence to justify writing today’s article.

Let’s take a closer look at what I found.

The Evidence – Acupuncture Vs IBS & Acid Reflux

IBS and acid reflux are common yet distinct conditions that often overlap, which is why I’ve chosen to discuss both in today’s article.

The question is simple – can acupuncture help manage these conditions?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

A 2018 meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) out of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that acupuncture improved symptoms in diarrhea-predominant IBS ( IBS-D).

The acupoints of interest were: ST25, ST36, ST37, SP6, GV20, and EX-HN3.

While those codes mean nothing to you or I, they should mean something to a skilled acupractitioner.

A 2019 meta-analysis of RCTs out of Therapeutic Advances In Gastroenterology concluded that acupuncture is a viable alternative management strategy for those who do not respond well to first-line approaches.

Further to those recently published papers, a randomized controlled trial from earlier this year found that acupuncture may be more effective at symptom relief than certain common medications.

Acid Reflux & GERD

A 2010 randomized controlled trial out of the Chinese Journal Of Integrative Medicine found that acupuncture relieved acid reflux symptoms related to GERD.

The acupoints of interest were: CV12, ST36, SP6, and PC6.

There is also further evidence to suggest that in individuals who are already medicated for GERD ( using PPIs), introducing acupuncture is actually more effective at symptom relief than increasing the medication dosage.

Final Thoughts

If you are living with one or both of IBS & GERD and conventional management approaches have not offered you the level of symptom relief you might hope haved hoped for, it does appear that acupuncture is a viable alternative modality that is worthy of your consideration.

Acupuncture represents one of many alternative treatment options that I’ve encountered in the course of my research for my latest book.

For those of you for whom acupuncture may not be in the current budget, you may be equally impressed by the evidence I gathered on meditation & gut health.

Have a read of that article, embrace alternative approaches but don’t neglect the care and guidance of your healthcare team ( especially your dietitian, which could be me!).

Until next time,

Andy De Santis RD MPH

Dealing With Heartburn, Acid Reflux & GERD? I Can Help.