Central and peripheral effects of transcutaneous acupuncture treatment for nausea in patients with diabetic gastroparesis

Irene Sarosiek, Gengqing Song, Yan Sun, Hugo Sandoval, Stephen Sands, Jiande Chen, Richard W. McCallum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background/Aims Nausea, an unpleasant symptom of diabetic gastroparesis (DMGP), has been reported to be alleviated by needleless transcutaneous electrical acupuncture (TEA). Our study was designed to utilize electroencephalography (EEG) and electrogastrography (EGG) recordings to investigate the central and peripheral responses of TEA in the treatment of nausea in DMGP patients. Methods Eleven DMGP subjects underwent simultaneous EEG and EGG testing while grading the severity of nausea following 30-minute intervals of: (1) baseline, (2) visual stimulation (VS) to provoke more nausea, (3) active VS together with TEA, and (4) TEA alone, and a final 15-minute recording without any intervention. Results The nausea score was increased to 5.9 ± 1.5 with VS (P < 0.05, vs 3.5 ± 1.0 at baseline), then reduced to 3.5 ± 1.2 with VS plus TEA, and to 2.5 ± 1.3 with TEA alone, while it continued at a score of 2.9 ± 1.0 post TEA (all significant, P < 0.05, vs VS without TEA). The mean percentage of normal gastric slow waves was decreased to 60.0 ± 5.7% with VS (P < 0.05, vs 66.6 ± 4.5% at baseline), then improved to 69.2 ± 4.8% with VS plus TEA, and maintained at 70 ± 3.6% with TEA alone. During initial VS, EEG signals showed right inferior frontal activity as the prominent finding, but during VS with TEA, left inferior frontal activity predominated. Conclusions In DMGP, TEA improves gastric dysrhythmia and ameliorates nausea. TEA treatment of nausea provoked by VS resulted in a change of dominance from right to left inferior frontal lobe activity. These data provide new understandings of peripheral and central mechanisms for nausea, and potential future directions for DMGP treatment approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-253
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2017


  • Acupuncture
  • Diabetes
  • Electroencephalogram
  • Electrogastrogram
  • Gastroparesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Gastroenterology


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