Systematic Reviews
Copyright ©The Author(s) 2020. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Gastroenterol. May 21, 2020; 26(19): 2440-2457
Published online May 21, 2020. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v26.i19.2440
Effects and mechanisms of acupuncture and electroacupuncture for functional dyspepsia: A systematic review
Yu Guo, Wei Wei, Jiande DZ Chen
Yu Guo, Wei Wei, Department of Gastroenterology, Wangjing Hospital of China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, Beijing 100102, China
Yu Guo, Jiande DZ Chen, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21224, United States
Jiande DZ Chen, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University of Michigan School of Medicine, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, United States
Author contributions: Guo Y, Wei W, and Chen JDZ designed the review protocol; Guo Y conducted the literature research; Guo Y and Wei W contributed to data extraction and quality assessment; Guo Y drafted the manuscript; Chen JDZ contributed to the critical revision of the manuscript.
Supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, No. 81703923 and No. 81820108033.
Conflict-of-interest statement: No potential conflicts of interest.
PRISMA 2009 Checklist statement: The authors have read the PRISMA 2009 checklist and the manuscript was prepared and revised according to the PRISMA 2009 checklist.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article that was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:
Corresponding author: Jiande DZ Chen, MD, PhD, Professor, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University of Michigan School of Medicine, 1515 E Medical Center Dr, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, United States.
Received: December 16, 2019
Peer-review started: December 16, 2019
First decision: February 24, 2020
Revised: April 16, 2020
Accepted: April 22, 2020
Article in press: April 22, 2020
Published online: May 21, 2020

Functional dyspepsia (FD) is a common digestive disease with limited therapeutic options. According to evidence-based clinical practice, acupuncture or electroacupuncture (EA) seems to be a promising therapy for patients with FD. However, there is still a lack of systematic reviews that have analyzed current clinical trials for a better understanding of mechanisms involved in the ameliorating effect of acupuncture and EA on FD.


To evaluate the results and qualities of existing clinical evidence for researching the underlying mechanisms of acupuncture/EA in treating FD.


A systematic search of the literature was performed to identify randomized controlled trials in which research on the mechanism of acupuncture or EA was conducted in FD patients. Databases searched included PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, and Web of Science. Data extraction and quality assessment were completed by two investigators independently and the results of quality evaluation were exported through Review Manager V5.3.


Eight studies were included in this review with a total of 17 items for detecting techniques for mechanistic research. Positive effects of acupuncture and EA were observed in regulating gastric motility, gastric accommodation, mental status, gastrointestinal hormones, and central and autonomic functions while improving dyspeptic symptoms and quality of life.


The key findings of this systematic review support the potential of acupuncture and EA in altering the heterogeneous pathophysiology in patients with FD. However, high-quality studies with well-planned designs are necessary to provide more credible evidence.

Keywords: Acupuncture, Electroacupuncture, Functional dyspepsia, Gastrointestinal motility, Systematic review

Core tip: In this systematic review, we pooled randomized controlled trials with mechanistic investigations of acupuncture or electroacupuncture in improving dyspeptic symptoms, and illustrated the existing results that may provide potential explanations for the therapeutic effects. The findings of included studies in this review suggest that acupuncture and electroacupuncture can improve gastric motility and accommodation, regulate gastrointestinal hormones and mental status, and alter certain central and autonomic functions in patients with functional dyspepsia. However, due to limitations in the included articles, high-quality studies with well-planned designs and multiregional investigations are necessary to provide more convincing and credible evidence.