The therapeutic effect of acupuncture treatments (AT) on functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs) is contentious. A meta-analysis was conducted to assess the efficacy and safety of acupuncture for FGIDs.
The Cochrane Library, EMBASE, PUBMED, Web of Science, Wanfang Database, China National Knowledge Infrastructure, and VIP Database were searched through December 31, 2019 with no language restrictions. Risk ratio (RR) with 95% confidence interval (CI) was calculated to determine the improvement in symptom severity after treatment.
A total of 61 randomised controlled trials (RCTs) on FGIDs were included. The pooled results illustrated the following: (1) compared to pharmacotherapy (RR 1.13, 95% CI 1.09-1.17), placebo acupuncture (RR 1.69, 95% CI 1.37-2.08), no specific treatment (RR 1.86, 95% CI 1.31-2.62), and AT as an adjuvant intervention to other active treatments (RR 1.25, 95% CI 1.21-1.30), AT had more favourable improvements in symptom severity; (2) sub-group analysis results classified according to functional dyspepsia, irritable bowel syndrome, and functional constipation also supported this finding; and (3) the incidence of adverse events was lower in AT than in other treatments (RR 0.75, 95% CI 0.56-0.99).
This meta-analysis found that AT was significantly associated with relief of FGIDs symptoms; however, the evidence level was moderate or low. Further data from rigorously designed and well powered RCTs are needed to verify the effectiveness and safety of AT as a FGIDs treatment.

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