Although an embarrassing topic for many, constipation affects a range of people. In fact, about 19 percent of people in North America suffer from constipation, and if you have it, you're not alone.
New research from the UCLA Center for East-West Medicine highlighted how acupressure can help mitigate this frustrating condition. In the trial, 72 percent of participants that self-administered perineal acupressure had improvement in their bowel movements. Acupressure is a form of touch therapy in which finger pressure is used to stimulate the same body parts as those in acupuncture.
"Constipation is very common and can have debilitating symptoms," said Dr. Ryan Abbott, the study's principal investigator and a visiting assistant professor of medicine in the division of general internal medicine and health services research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "But patients can perform this simple intervention themselves to treat their own constipation and improve their quality of life. It can also help to limit health care costs and excessive medication use."
About 72 percent of participants said this healing treatment helped them have an easier time when they went to the toilet. Another 82 percent said they would continue using the technique. The results were published online in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
While the study provided evidence that the self-acupressure could work on its own, researchers pointed out that this is a great example of the complementary effects of Western and Eastern medicine. The findings suggest that this technique may serve as the first-line intervention together with conventional treatment. In other words, it combines the best of both worlds.
The digestive condition is more common among women, people older than 60 and those who are not physically active.
"As a non-invasive, non-pharmacological treatment intervention for constipation, perineal self-acupressure likely carries a lower risk for side effects and complications than commonly used medications such as stool softeners, fiber supplements, stimulants, laxatives and lubricants," the researchers wrote. "In addition, perineal self-acupressure may help to control treatment costs because it only requires a brief, initial period of training. Furthermore, not all patients respond favorably to existing treatment options, and perineal self-acupressure may represent an effective alternative to conventional treatment options."