Harvard Women's Health Watch

Acupressure relieves constipation in small clinical trial

For anyone who has been constipated, the promise of relief through medication is clouded by the possibility of developing a "laxative habit." However, a study published online Nov. 18, 2014, by the Journal of General Internal Medicine offers a drug-free approach to the problem: applying pressure to the perineum (the area between the genitals and the anus).

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, studied 100 women and men with chronic constipation. Half were randomly assigned to receive handouts describing conventional approaches to relieving constipation, such as increasing fluid and fiber intake, getting regular exercise, and using laxatives and other medications. The other half got the same handouts, and were also instructed to use their index and middle fingers to press on the perineum at the first urge to defecate and continue until the stool passed easily.

A month later, the acupressure group had a significant improvement in both bowel function and hemorrhoid symptoms compared to the control group. No side effects or complications were reported.

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