Acupuncture has been in practice in China for over 3,000 years and used for treating various GI diseases, including gastroparesis, functional dyspepsia (FD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), constipation and diarrhea. Acupuncture has also been used for the treatment of cardiovascular disease, metabolic diseases, chronic pain, mood disorders, etc (Acupuncture review 2006).
Acupuncture needles are filiform, sterile, single-use needles that are thinner than insulin needles. Insertion of acupuncture needles causes minimal or no pain and much less tissue injury than phlebotomy or parenteral injection. Most side effects are minor, such as faintness, needle site bleeding, nerve damage, pneumothorax, and abortion in pregnant woman. Many patients find acupuncture treatment relaxing. The current expense and inconvenience of frequent visits to acupuncturists are the most common barriers to acupuncture treatment.
Despite the fact that specific acupuncture points (acupoints) are used for treating specific symptoms and/or diseases, it is not fully understood how their specificity is determined and how the needling at acupoints works. There was no clear evidence to demonstrate the existence of acupuncture points or meridians (Acupuncture points and meridians 2008).