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Benefits of acupuncture for diabetic gastroparesis: a comparative preliminary study
  1. Netanella Danielli Miller1,
  2. Elad Schiff2,
  3. Eran Ben-Arye3,4,
  4. Joelle Singer5,
  5. Tsachi Tsadok Perets6,7,
  6. Shlomit Flaut6,7,
  7. Nadav Sahar6,7,
  8. Yaron Niv6,7,
  9. Ram Dickman6,7
  1. 1The Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel
  2. 2Department of Internal Medicine, Bnai Zion Medical Center, Haifa, Israel
  3. 3Integrative Oncology Program, Clalit Health Services, The Oncology Service and Lin Medical Center, Haifa, Israel
  4. 4Complementary and Traditional Medicine Unit, The Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel
  5. 5Department of Endocrinology, Rabin Medical Center, Petach Tikva, Israel
  6. 6Department of Gastroenterology, Beilinson Hospital, Rabin Medical Center, Petach Tikva, Israel
  7. 7Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ram Dickman, Department of Gastroenterology, Rabin Medical Center, Beilinson Campus, Petach Tikva 49100, Israel; dickmanr1{at}


Objectives The aim of this preliminary study was to compare the effectiveness of domperidone and acupuncture for the management of diabetic gastroparesis.

Methods This was a preliminary, prospective non-randomised, unblinded case-crossover study conducted in patients with longstanding, uncontrolled diabetes mellitus and gastroparesis. All patients received domperidone (20 mg four times a day) for 12 weeks, followed by a 2–3 week washout period, and then biweekly acupuncture treatments for 8 weeks. Gastric emptying rate, glucose and glycated haemoglobin (HbA1C) levels were measured at start and end of each treatment period. At each of these timepoints patients completed the Gastroparesis Cardinal Symptom Index (GCSI), the Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS), and the Short-Form 36 Health Survey Update (SF-36).

Results The trial was curtailed after only eight participants could be recruited in 3 years. The mean age of patients was 57.1±9.9 years, the male:female ratio was 1:7 and mean body mass index (kg/m2) was 25.2±1.2. There was no change in any of the outcome parameters after treatment with domperidone. Acupuncture was associated with a decrease in scores for almost all cardinal symptoms of the GCSI, as well as in increased total score on the SWLS (p=0.002) and the social functioning domain of the SF-36 (p=0.054). Acupuncture did not lead to an improvement in gastric emptying, or glucose control from baseline.

Conclusions Acupuncture treatment may lead to symptomatic improvement in patients with diabetic gastroparesis. Within the limitations of this preliminary, non-randomised and unblinded study, it appears that this effect may be due to non-specific mechanisms.

  • Acupuncture
  • Diabetes
  • Internal Medicine

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