Diabetic gastroparesis: what can complementary and alternative medicines do?

Shi-Yi Liu, Ying-Pan Zhao, Ning Zhang


Diabetic gastroparesis (DGP) is a complication of long-standing diabetes mellitus (DM) and a chronic motility disorder of the stomach. Up to 50% of patients with type 1 and 2 DM have the gastrointestinal manifestations, especially delayed gastric emptying (GE). And DM accounted for almost one-third of all cases of gastroparesis. The most common symptoms of DGP include postprandial fullness, early satiety, nausea, vomiting, bloating, and abdominal pain, which markedly lead to poor quality of life. Therapeutic strategies in western medicine for DGP involve dietary modification, the control of blood glucose, medications that stimulate gastric motor activity, anti-emetic and prokinetic drug therapy, and nonpharmacological measures. However, the limited effectiveness and the side effects of the strategies above mentioned may be restricted for their applications sometimes. Complementary and alternative therapy like Chinese herbs, acupuncture, moxibustion, and massage has been widely used for thousands of years and there are an increasing number of studies in DGP about them, suggesting that Chinese medicine could bring multiple benefits in the treatment of refractory nausea and vomiting and also help to alleviate abdominal distension with fewer side effects. Here, we focus on the general treatment strategies of complementary and alternative therapy, as discovered through PubMed and CNKI in English and Chinese publications, respectively.