Yes, there are benefits for people with irritable bowel syndrome. But it doesn’t seem to matter whether they receive real of sham acupuncture.

Reviewers from the University Hospital Heidelberg in Germany searched the medical literature for evidence of the effectiveness of acupuncture in gastrointestinal diseases.

They report that for patients with irritable bowel syndrome, improvement in quality of life was observed using any of the following treatments.

  • Standardized (or fixed regimen) acupuncture
  • Acupuncture individualized to meet the patient’s needs
  • Penetrating sham acupuncture
  • Non-penetrating sham acupuncture

The response to acupuncture was similar to that achieved with psychotherapeutic interventions and antidepressants, and it might be explained as a patient response to ‘handling,’ and signaling by the acupuncturist of a holistic understanding of the patient’s problems.

8/2/07 13:31 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.