Constipation – Basics

A person is considered to experience constipation when he or she has less than three bowel movements per week. When a bowel movement does occur, it is often with difficulty and small in size. Constipation can be attributed to poor diet (especially lack of fibre), inactivity, dehydration, certain medications and other factors.

Constipation – Diagnostic Patterns

The Chinese Medicine treatment of constipation generally involves arriving at the appropriate TCM diagnosis or pattern. This pattern within the individual is what treatment is based on not the general condition. The following patterns may represent the underlying contributing factors for the development of constipation: Kidney Yin Deficiency and Spleen Blood Deficiency.

Commonly used points:  ST25 Tianshu, ST36 Zusanli, ST37Shangjuxu, ST44Neiting, BL25 Dachangshu

Ccommonly used formula:  Mu Xiang Shun Qi Wan, Da Cheng Qi Wan, Ma Zi Ren Wan.


A systematic review on the efficacy of TCM for the management of constipation included 3 acupuncture RCTs. The RCTs comparing acupuncture treatment with patients taking lactulose or Folium Sennae reported statistically significant benefits in favour of acupuncture but no pooled effect was reported to estimate the size of the acupuncture treatment effect (1).


  1. Lin LW, Fu YT, Dunning T, et al. Efficacy of traditional Chinese medicine for the management of constipation: a systematic review. J Altern Complement Med. Dec 2009;15(12):1335-1346.