Medical Research

Electroacupuncture for Constipation: Animal Study

Kristen Sparrow • February 11, 2017

Ancient Wisdom Through the Ages


I see the problem of constipation quite a bit in the clinic, so I’m glad to have this reference.  Stim was at 2 to 15 hz.

BMC Complement Altern Med. 2016 Oct 18;16(1):392.

Electroacupuncture at acupoint ST 37(Shangjuxu) improves function of the enteric nervous system in a novel mouse constipation model.

Author information

  • 1Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine, Nanjing, 210046, Jiangsu Province, China.
  • 2Xi’an Traditional Chinese Medicine Brain Disease Hospital, Xi’an, 710000, China.
  • 3Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine, Nanjing, 210046, Jiangsu Province, China.



Electroacupuncture (EA) at acupoint ST 37 (Shangjuxu) has been used to alleviate gastrointestinal symptoms and improve gastrointestinal motility. However, the mechanisms by which EA affects the enteric nervous system (ENS) have scarcely been investigated. In this study, we investigated whether EA could improve ENS function.


A constipation model was established by gastric instillation of ice-cold saline daily for 14 days. The constipated mice were divided into two groups: the model group, which was not treated, and the EA group, which received EA at ST 37 at a frequency of 2-15 HZ and an amplitude of 1 mA for 15 min a day for 3 days. A further six mice were included as a non-constipated control group. After EA treatment, intestinal propulsion and defecation time were measured. Additionally, in jejunum, ileum and proximal colon myenteric plexus, the expressions of PGP9.5 and nNOS were measured by immunohistochemistry.


The EA group demonstrated significant improvements in carbon propulsion rates and defecation time compared to model group (P < 0.05). In addition, after EA, the PGP9.5 and nNOS expression in jejunum, ileum and proximal colonic myenteric plexus was back to normal levels.


This study suggests that EA stimulation at ST 37 is capable of ameliorating intestinal motility dysfunction, and can partly restore enteric neuron function. The ENS can participate in changes in intestinal motility by affecting inhibitory neurons.