Acupuncture for Constipation

Constipation – Natural Relief

Constipation is one of the most common health complaints in the U.S., affecting up to 63 million people in North America. 

Acupuncture is a natural treatment for constipation that works to stimulate the body to heal itself. Acupuncture balances the nervous system and stimulates gut motility to help improve gastrointestinal function. Also, acupuncture treats a problem without side effects!

Acupuncture helps to relieve constipation by altering the function of the nervous system, reducing inflammation, and stimulating gastric motility. In this way, it targets the root causes of the condition. Studies have shown that acupuncture is more effective than drugs for constipation in the long run. In addition, acupuncture treatments have fewer adverse effects than drugs, including a lower relapse rate and reduces the need for medications.


Constipation can be painful and uncomfortable. It makes you feel sluggish, fatigued, moody, and overall unwell. Constipation also affects other health conditions such as acnepelvic floor dysfunction and pelvic pain, painful periods, and many other conditions. Acupuncture can help!

In this article, I will tell you how acupuncture works to treat constipation, share clinical research that proves it works, and share how we create personalized acupuncture treatments to relieve your constipation.

Acupuncture has a Long History of Treating Constipation

Acupuncture has been used to improve digestion and treat constipation for thousands of years. 

There are hundreds of acupuncture points on the human body, and each one has a specific function. Acupuncture can help with constipation by stimulating these pressure points and helping to stimulate circulation in your body. The acupuncture point Stomach 36  is one of the most commonly used acupuncture points for constipation, as it stimulates the motility in the stomach and the whole gut. 

Acupressure Point Stomach
Acupressure at Stomach 36 can help with constipation

Acupuncture also has a direct effect on the nervous system. The stimulation of acupoints changes the firing of neurons in the brain and alters neurochemicals. This stimulation improves colonic motility and calms the sympathetic nervous system. Many patients find relief after a few sessions.

Acupuncture therapy targets specific imbalances in the body that have developed or are part of your constitution. Correcting this underlying problem addresses the root issue and provides long-term improvement.

Acupuncture believes that the body has Qi (life energy) which circulates through the body’s meridians. Stress, disease, medication side effects, or unhealthy eating habits cause the digestive Qi to slow down and becomes stuck. We call this stagnation. Acupuncture unblocks the flow of qi relieving constipation.  

Others may develop constipation from lack of Qi. This is called qi vacuity and is accompanied by fatigue and poor appetite. In this case, acupuncture works to boost the body’s energy.

Heat and dryness are also imbalances that may cause constipation. During the exam, I will take your pulse, look at your tongue, and ask questions to determine the correct imbalance to target. 

How Acupuncture Works to Relieve Constipation

Acupuncture works by invigorating the body’s natural healing process. The process of acupuncture involves inserting fine needles into specific acupuncture points on the body. Stimulating acupuncture points improves the flow of the Qi and the production of Qi, as well as removes toxins that impede digestion.

For constipation, most acupuncture points will be on the stomach, spleen, meridian, and large intestine acupuncture meridians.

Scientists have shown that acupuncture relieves constipation and GI disorders through neuromodulaton, stimulation of the vagas nerve pathway, gut motility, and improves gut dysbiosis.  Additionally, acupuncture reduces visceral hypersensitivity and inflammation in the gut.

Electro-acupuncture is a technique within acupuncture. This method involves connecting the acupuncture needles to a device that sends electrical pulses to certain areas of the body. Electroacupuncture has been shown to enhance gastric motility and reduce inflammation in the gut.

Acupuncture also involves acupressure, which is massage of certain pressure points that aid in acupuncture’s function. Stomach 36 is a wonderful acupressure point for constipation.

Research Shows Acupuncture Relieves Functional Constipation

electric acupuncture

Research has shown that acupuncture can relieve chronic constipation and improve quality of life.

A large clinical study with more than 1,000 participants found that acupuncture improved constipation in participants who received true acupuncture over those who were given sham treatments.

Participants in the true acupuncture group received bilateral treatment of these acupuncture points.  

  • Tianshu (ST25) EA at 10/50hz
  • Fujie (SP14) EA 10/50 hz
  • Shangjuxu (ST37)

The patients received 28 visits over the course of 8 weeks. Patients in the sham group received stimulation at non-acupuncture points. The patients in the real acupuncture group had a significant decrease in constipation and return to more regular bowel movements than the sham acupuncture group.  

In a recent meta-analysis of acupuncture for constipation, researchers analyzed 28 random control trials, which included a total of 3525 patients. The results showed that acupuncture increased complete spontaneous bowel movement and reduced abdominal pain.  In addition, quality of life was also improved. Acupuncture had very few side effects.

Overall, acupuncture was more effective than medications and had fewer side effects.  

Opioid Related Constipation can be Alleviated with the use of Acupuncture.

Opioid related constipation is a common side effect of opioid pain medications. Opioids interfere with the process of peristalsis, which helps move stool through the colon, leading to constipation.  

A study published in the Journal Clinical Epidemiology shows that acupuncture can help alleviate opioid-related constipation in patients with advanced cancer. Researchers found that, among the participants in the study, those who received acupuncture had a much greater decrease in bowel movements compared to those who received sham acupuncture. They also reported less bloating, abdominal pain, and nausea than those who did not receive acupuncture.

A healthy diet Helps to Improve Constipation

It is important to combine acupuncture with a healthy diet to manage constipation. Eating foods high in fiber is an excellent way to combat constipation as well as enhance your gut microflora. If you are prone to constipation, try introducing these foods which are high in fiber slowly to your diet.

healthy eating

These foods include 

  • Fruits and Vegetables. These foods contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. In addition to being easy to digest, they also offer other nutrients. 
  • Ripe Bananas 
  • Apples contain pectin, which can help soften your stool and promote movement. You can eat them whole or add them to your favorite baked goods. 
  • Figs are another great food for boosting your fiber intake. A half cup of dried figs contains 7.9 grams of fiber, which is almost 32% of your daily recommended intake.
  • Hemp seeds, called huo ma ren in Chinese medicine, have fiber, proteins, and oils that relieve constipation. These can be added to a smoothie or eaten on a salad. 

Acupuncture to Cure Constipation – The Most Natural Way

Acupuncture has been used to stimulate the digestive system and relieve constipation for thousands of years.  Unlike over-the-counter medications, acupuncture is a natural treatment for constipation. By treating the underlying imbalances that cause constipation, acupuncture can have long-term benefits.

During the initial visit, we will have a full medical history to determine the imbalance causing your constipation.  I will then customize the treatment to your specific health concerns.  one of the great thongs about acupuncture is that we treat the whole person and can address many concerns at the same time.

The most common imbalances leading to constipation are Qi stagnation, Qi vacuity, heat, and dryness.  I will use many different techniques in the acupuncture treatment of constipation. These methods include acupuncture, electroacupuncture, acupressure, and herbal medicine.

If you’re looking for help with constipation you can call us with any questions at 212-319-5757 or make your appointment online.