A single-blinded, randomized pilot study evaluating effects of electroacupuncture in diabetic patients with symptoms suggestive of gastroparesis.
J Altern Complement Med. 2008 Sep;14(7):833-9. PMID: 18721079
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: The current pharmacological management of diabetic gastroparesis remains difficult. Acupuncture has been widely used for gastrointestinal symptoms. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of electroacupuncture (EA) on solid gastric emptying time, serum gastrin, motilin, pancreatic polypeptide (PP), fasting and postprandial blood glucose, and symptoms in patients with diabetic gastroparesis. INTERVENTIONS: EA at the Zusanli (ST 36) and Hegu (LI 4) points and sham EA as control were administered by an experienced and licensed acupuncturist. DESIGN: This was a pilot study with a randomized, single-blinded design. SUBJECTS AND SETTING: Nineteen (19) patients with type 2 diabetes who had had symptoms of gastroparesis for more than 3 months were included in the trial and randomized into two groups. Each group received EA (n = 9) or sham EA (n = 10) consisting of 4 sessions over 2 weeks. OUTCOME MEASURES: Symptom severity was evaluated using the Gastroparesis Cardinal Symptom Index (GCSI) at baseline, at the end of treatment, and 2 weeks after the end of the trial; solid-phase gastric half-emptying time was measured by scintigraphy; in addition, serum gastrin, motilin, PP, fasting, and postprandial blood glucose levels were also measured. RESULTS: Gastric half-emptying time in 9 patients with diabetic gastroparesis was significantly shortened by EA treatment (143.8 +/- 55.9 minutes versus 98.8 +/- 28.6 minutes, p < 0.03). Half-emptying time did not change (98.9 +/- 26.4 minutes versus 90.9 +/- 24.8 minutes, p > 0.05) in the sham EA group. Symptom severity, as measured by GCSI total score, improved significantly both at the end of treatment (2.38 +/- 0.56 versus 1.48 +/- 0.19, p < 0.001) and 2 weeks after the end of the trial (2.38 +/- 0.56 versus 1.65 +/- 0.44, p < 0.01) when compared with the baseline in the EA group, but did not change from baseline with sham EA treatment. There were no significant changes in fasting and postprandial blood glucose, serum gastrin, motilin, and PP in both groups. No significant adverse events occurred. CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates that short-term EA at the Zusanli and Hegu points effectively reduces the dyspeptic symptoms of diabetic gastroparesis and accelerates solid gastric emptying. Sustained improvement in dyspeptic symptoms was observed at 2 weeks after the end of the trial. Its potential for treating gastroparesis may be explored, and a larger trial is required to draw definitive conclusions.