Does Gastroparesis Go Away?

It may be more manageable than you think

If you suffer from gastroparesis and looking for safe and effective ways to help, give our office a call at (425) 686-4498 to set-up your initial consultation to learn more about how we can help.

Beat the Bloat Guide

Does Gastroparesis Go Away?

Gastroparesis is ‘paralysis of the stomach.’ It’s a functional disorder affecting your stomach nerves and muscles, in some cases involves your esophagus as well. It causes your stomach muscle contractions to be weaker and slower and leads to slower digestion. This leads to food sitting too long in your stomach. Symptoms include: feeling full during or after eating, nausea, vomiting, bloating, gas, belching, abdominal pain, and poor appetite. Gastroparesis causes a substantial impact on people’s daily function and quality of life when symptomatic. In addition, current Western treatment options are based on limited evidence of benefits. So, does gastroparesis go away?

What causes Gastroparesis?

The most common cause of gastroparesis is diabetes. Normally, your stomach muscles tighten to move food through your digestive tract. If you have gastroparesis, nerve damage from high blood sugar, like in those with diabetes, can cause those muscles to slow down or not work at all. This causes your stomach to not empty properly, and your food may take a long time to leave your stomach. The second most common cause is nerve damage, typically to the vagus nerve, during surgery, leading to gastroparesis symptoms. The vagus nerve is one of the longest cranial nerves and is responsible for the regulation of internal organ functions, such as digestion, heart rate, as well as swallowing and vomiting. Read more about how we can help regulate the vagus nerve in our previous post, here. Other causes can be hypothyroidism, any nervous system disorder, autoimmune diseases like scleroderma, viral infections, or it can be idiopathic aka no known cause.

Common Treatment Options

Ideally, the cause of why you developed gastroparesis should be examined and that will guide treatment. If diabetes was found to be the cause of gastroparesis, then taking appropriate steps to help regulate blood sugar, lower HbA1c, and implementing diet and lifestyle factors should be first line of therapy. In general, common treatment options are changing diet and eating habits such as making sure you are getting enough protein and hydration to prevent dehydration and malnutrition. This maybe eating foods lower in fat and fiber which can be easier to digest, eating small frequent meals, avoiding carbonated drinks, avoiding alcohol, and drinking plenty of water with electrolytes.

Your doctor may prescribe certain medications to help reduce symptoms such as Metoclopramide which may help the muscles in the wall of your stomach contract and may help with nausea. Erythromycin maybe prescribed as it can improve gastric emptying. However, often these medications do not help long-term and may come with other unwanted side effects.

Another common treatment option is ‘gastric electrical stimulation’ which a surgeon implants an electrical device under your skin in your lower abdomen and will attach wired from the device to the muscles in the wall of your stomach. This is kind of like a ‘pacemaker’ for your stomach. A newer option that is being done is having an endoscopy where the doctor will put botox in the muscles of the stomach wall in hopes this will help the muscles contract. However, this is also not a guaranteed fix, nor does it address the root cause on why the nerves are not functioning properly. Many people with gastroparesis are looking at safer and more less invasive ways to help with symptoms and long-term relief and acupuncture has been found to help those with gastroparesis. 

What the studies say? Can acupuncture help gastroparesis?

In a recent study looking at post operative gastroparesis (PGS) and how acupuncture could compare to Metoclopramide in treatment. This study found both acupuncture and Metoclopramide could significantly reduce gastric drainage volume. However, in the acupuncture group, the cure rate was 90.6%, while in metoclopramide group, the cure rate and the number of treatment were 32.3%. There were significant differences in gastric drainage volume, cure rate and number of treatment between the two groups, finding that acupuncture is a good treatment for PGS.

Another study looked at how acupuncture could help diabetic induced gastroparesis. This study measured gastric emptying rate, glucose, and HbA1C levels at start and end of each treatment period, in addition to using assessment tools such as the Gastroparesis Cardinal Symptom Index (GCSI), the Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS), and the Short-Form 36 Health Survey Update. This study found that participants receiving biweekly acupuncture for 8 weeks, showed a decrease in scores for almost all cardinal symptoms of the GCSI, increased total score on the Satisfaction with Life Scale, and the social functioning domain scale. 

Read Dr. Heintze’s previous post on how we can help Gastroparesis, here.

At Starting Point, we specialize in chronic and complex cases and commonly see those with gastroparesis. We use a combined integrated approach which typically includes in depth nutrition coaching, food allergy testing, and treatments such as acupuncture to help reduce symptoms as well as work to reset and reboot your nervous system. 

If you suffer from gastroparesis and looking for safe and effective ways to help, give our office a call at (425) 686-4498 to set-up your initial consultation to learn more about how we can help.

Dr. Ellie Heintze, ND, LAc, is a naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist in Bothell, WA at her practice Starting Point Acupuncture. She specializes in chronic and complex cases and commonly treats neuropathy, fibromyalgia, migraines, autoimmune, and infertility cases. Dr. Ellie Heintze is also the author of the book, A Starting Point Guide to Going Gluten-Free  and Keep Calm and Zen Out available on Amazon.


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Diabetic Gastroparesis and acupuncture:

Call or Schedule Now! (425) 686-4498

Call or Schedule Now!

(425) 686-4498

Dr. Ellie Heintze, ND, LAc

  • Master’s Degree in Acupuncture
    Bastyr University
  • Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine
    Bastyr University
  • Master’s Degree in Chemistry
    Northern Arizona University
Dr. Heintze Acupuncturist and Naturopathic Doctor

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