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JKM > Volume 40(1); 2019 > Article
Park, Kim, and Keum: Responses of Autonomic Nervous System and Gastrointestinal Function to Acupuncture at Abdominal Anterior Cutaneous Nerve : A Pilot Study



This study is designed to identify the responses of autonomic nervous system and gastrointestinal function which are induced by acupuncture at abdominal anterior cutaneous nerve.


This study is one group before and after pilot study. Subjects were treated once, after having been fasting six hours. They had before tests, labeling points for acupuncture, acupuncture, and after tests in order. The points of acupuncture were motor points of rectus abdominis where the abdominal anterior cutaneous nerve came to the skin from abdominal wall. Before and after tests were consisted of three things: Digital Infrared Thermographic Imaging(D.I.T.I.), Heart Rate Variability(HRV), and Recording of bowel sounds.


There were significant differences on the skin temperature of upper body and the frequency of bowel sounds(p<0.001, p<0.001). The HRV parameters and volume of bowel sounds had no significant differences(p>0.05, p>0.05).


Even though no significant differences in HRV parameters, the significant differences of skin temperature of upper body and frequency of bowel sounds could mean acupuncture at abdominal anterior cutaneous nerve could affect the autonomic nervous system and gastrointestinal function. However, this study had no group to compare with. Future randomized project should address this issue.

Fig. 1
Digital Infrared Thermographic Imaging
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Point for attaching electrostethoscope
Fig. 4
Analyzing bowel sounds
(a) Visualized bowel sounds and noise
(b) Transformed bowel sounds for analyzing
Fig. 5
Electric probe
Fig. 6
Abdominal Anterior Cutaneous Nerve15)
(a) Nerves of anterior abdominal wall
(b) Thoracoabdominal nerves
Fig. 7
Points for acupuncture.
Fig. 8
Skin temperature changes of anterior and posterior side of upper body
(a) Skin temperature changes of anterior side of upper body
(b) Skin temperature changes of posterior side of upper body
Fig. 9
Changes of Heart Rate Variability
(a) Changes of MHRT
(b) Changes of RMS-SD
(c) Changes of LF
(d) Changes of HR
(e) Changes of LF/HF ratio
Fig. 10
Changes of bowel sounds’ volume and frequency
(a) Changes of volume of bowel sounds
(b) Changes of frequency of bowel sounds
Table 1
General Characteristics of the Subjects
Group Total
n 30
Age 27±3.10
Gender Male n(%) 7(23.0)
Female n(%) 23(77.0)

Values are mean ± S.D.

Table 2
Skin Temperature Changes of Anterior and Posterior Side of Upper Body
Anterior Part (°C) Posterior Part (°C)
Before 31.63 ± 1.17 32.05 ± 1.10
After 32.58 ± 0.90 33.82 ± 0.68
P-value < 0.001 < 0.001

Values are mean ± S.D.

P-values were calculated by Paired T-test

Table 3
Changes of Heart Rate Variability
Before After P-value
MHRT* 64.42 ± 8.93 63.11 ± 8.41 0.221
RMS-SD 40.67 ± 19.85 40.44 ± 17.37 0.929
LF 1417.35 ± 2047.81 1698.06 ± 4261.04 0.877
HF§ 1121.82 ± 1533.49 947.97 ± 1468.19 0.558
LF/HF ratio 1.31 ± 1.11 1.35 ± 0.81 0.344

Values are mean ± S.D.

* MHRT : Mean Heart rate,

† RMS-SD : Root Mean Square of the Successive Differences

‡ LF : Low Frequency Density,

§ HF : High Frequency Density

P-values of MHRT and RMS-SD was calculated by Paired T-test

P-values of LF, HF and LF/HF ratio was calculated by Wilcoxon signed rank test

Table 4
Volume and Frequency of Bowel Sound
Volume (dB) Frequency (Hz)
Before −13.61 ± 2.48 165.32 ± 36.80
After −13.87 ± 1.59 200.38 ± 31.21
P-value 0.611 < 0.001

Values are mean ± S.D.

P-values were calculated by Paired T-test


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