Background: Functional constipation is one of the most common gastrointestinal diseases. Currently, there is no effective Western medical therapy for functional constipation and it significantly impacts the quality of life of the patients. Integrated traditional Chinese and Western medicine therapies were reported to have better therapeutic effects than routine Western medicine therapies.
Objective: To explore the efficacy of acupuncture combined with Chinese herbal medicine Plantain and Senna Granule in the treatment of functional constipation.
Design, setting, participants and interventions: A total of 390 patients with confirmed functional constipation enrolled from the Department of Gastroenterology, the First Affiliated Hospital of Xinxiang Medical College in China from February 2008 to January 2010 were randomly divided into three groups, with 130 cases in each group. Acupuncture group was treated with puncture of point Tianshu (ST25), Shangjuxu (ST37), Zusanli (ST36), Dachangyu (BL25) and Zhigou (SJ6) twice daily for four weeks, while Plantain and Senna Granule group was treated with 5 g of Plantain and Senna Granule once daily, and the combination group was given above-mentioned acupuncture and Plantain and Senna Granule.
Main outcome measures: The defecation cycle, stool property, constipation symptom, accompanying symptoms, gastrointestinal transit time, including total gastrointestinal transit time, mouth-intestine transit time, colonic transit time, right colonic transit time, left colonic transit time and rectosigmoid colonic transit time, and adverse reactions of the three groups were evaluated before treatment, at the end of treatment and 64 weeks after treatment, respectively.
Results: Compared with before treatment, the scores of defecation cycle, stool property, constipation symptoms and accompanying symptoms, and gastrointestinal transit time all decreased significantly at the end of treatment in each group (P<0.01), and the combination group showed better results than the other groups (P<0.05). Compared with the end of treatment, the above-mentioned indexes recurred insignificantly in the combination group and acupuncture group after 64 weeks of follow-up (P>0.05), but all recurred significantly in the Plantain and Senna Granule group (P>0.05). Both short- and long-term total response rates of the combination group showed significant differences compared with those of the other two groups (P<0.05 or P<0.01). No serious adverse reactions occurred in all the three groups.
Conclusion: Acupuncture plus Plantain and Senna Granule can significantly decrease gastrointestinal transit time and defecation cycle in patients with functional constipation; it can also change stool property and alleviate constipation symptom and accompanying symptoms, with good security and tolerance.