In a prospective randomised study, the effect of acupuncture on sham feeding stimulated gastric acid secretion was investigated. In eight healthy volunteers (five men, three women, mean (SEM) age 26.3 (4.7) years) various methods of acupuncture were performed. Apart from the sham procedure, the acupuncture was performed at the classic acupuncture points. Electroacupuncture reduced gastric acid secretion expressed as median (range) significantly during the first 30 minute period to 1.6 (0-5.2) mmol compared with 3.8 (2.3-14.5) mmol (p < 0.05) during control period (sham feeding without acupuncture). Inhibition of gastric acid secretion by electroacupuncture was also significant during the second 30 minute period (0.2 (0-5.6) v 3.6 (0.3-9.1) mmol; p < 0.05) and for peak acid output (0.8 (0.2-5.1) v 7.6 (3.4-12.1) mmol; p < 0.05). Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation also resulted in significant reduction of gastric acid secretion during the first 30 minute period (1.0 (0-3.6) mmol v 3.8 (2.3-14.5) mmol; p < 0.05), and peak acid output (3.6 (1.2-12.0) v 7.6 (3.4-12.1) mmol; p < 0.05). The classic needle acupuncture, laser acupuncture, and sham acupuncture had no significant effect on gastric acid secretion. This study shows firstly that in healthy volunteers, only the versions of acupuncture using more pronounced stimulation (electroacupuncture, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation), but not those with only mild stimulation of the nerves (classic needle acupuncture, laser acupuncture), and secondly only acupuncture performed at defined points lead to significant reduction in gastric acid secretion.
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