Medical Research

Anti-stress effects of TENS on colonic motility, animal study

Kristen Sparrow • July 14, 2012

This study shouldn’t really be filed under Acupuncture Research, but it certainly has implications for acupuncture.  They used the hind limbs of rats for TENS stim and found that TENS increased OXT expression and decreased CRF(corticotropin releasing factor) expression at the paraventricular nucleus after stressing rats.  They compared the TENS group to a control group.  They conclude that TENS may be useful in treating increased colonic motility in IBS patients.  We’ve discussed acupuncture and effects on the GI tract here and here.

I still am not convinced that electroacupuncture is necessary as opposed to manual acupuncture.  I seem to get fine results without electro, and electro can be annoying to the patient.   Always more to study…
Dig Dis Sci. 2012 May;57(5):1213-21.
Anti-stress effects of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) on colonic motility in rats.
Yoshimoto S, Babygirija R, Dobner A, Ludwig K, Takahashi T.
Department of Surgery, Zablocki VA Medical Center, Medical College of Wisconsin, 5000 West National Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53295,
Disorders of colonic motility may contribute to symptoms in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and stress is widely believed to play a major role in developing IBS. Stress increases corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) of the hypothalamus, resulting in acceleration of colonic transit in rodents. In contrast, hypothalamic oxytocin (OXT) has an anti-stress effect via inhibiting CRF expression and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activity. Although transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) and acupuncture have been shown to have anti-stress effects, the mechanism of the beneficial effects remains unknown…
TENS significantly attenuated accelerated colonic transit induced by chronic heterotypic stress, which was antagonized by a central injection of an OXT antagonist. Immunohistochemical study showed that TENS increased OXT expression and decreased CRF expression at the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) following chronic heterotypic stress.
It is suggested that TENS upregulates hypothalamic OXT expression which acts as an anti-stressor agent and mediates restored colonic dysmotility following chronic stress. TENS may be useful to treat gastrointestinal symptoms associated with stress.