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Studies show acupuncture combined with moxibustion benefit to patients with Crohn's Disease

Acupuncture has a history of more than 4000 years and are popular in China and many other countries. Acupuncture has been widely used for the clinical treatment of various diseases, particularly gastrointestinal diseases such as CD, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and functional dyspepsia.

Many studies have shown that Acupuncture has a positive effect as a treatment for CD. One randomized, lacebo-controlled trial conducted by Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine demonstrated that acupuncture and moxibustion treatment in patients with Crohn’s disease (CD) significantly improved the patient’s CD symptoms, quality of life, mucosal inflammation, serum hemoglobin, and C-reactive protein levels compared to the control group.

The research team has performed clinical and basic research on acupuncture and moxibustion for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease for over 30 years. Herb-partitioned moxibustion combined with acupuncture therapy is commonly used for the treatment of CD. Herb-partitioned moxibustion, a critical component of moxibustion therapy, is performed by placing a cake of herbs (dispensing a traditional Chinese medicinal (TCM) formula) on the patient’s acupoints, followed by the placement and ignition of moxa cones, which are composed of refined mugwort floss, on the herbal cake to treat diseases. Acupuncture is a collection of procedures involving penetration of the skin with needles to stimulate certain points on the body. The authors found that herb-partitioned moxibustion combined with acupuncture is an effective and safe treatment for mild to moderate CD.

They also studied the mechanisms of acupuncture for the treatment of CD. The results suggested that acupuncture and/or moxibustion might inhibit the abnormal expression of the inflammatory cytokines, TNF-α and TNFR1, in the colonic mucosa and peripheral blood of a rat model of CD. These changes may subsequently reduce colonic epithelial cell apoptosis, improve colonic epithelial barrier structure and function, and increase the expression of the colonic epithelial tight junction proteins occludin, claudin-1, and ZO-1 via the TNF-α/TNFR1 pathway, thereby reducing intestinal inflammation in CD model rats, restoring/protecting the colonic epithelial barrier, and ultimately achieving the goal of alleviating chronic bowel inflammation in CD.

Here is another study show traditional acupuncture offers an additional therapeutic benefit in patients with mild to moderately active CD.

Related reports:

  1. In the United States, Up to 60% of patients suffering from IBD are reported to use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies both to help treat their disease and also to treat side effects.

  2. In a German study investigating CAM use in 413 IBD patients, 52% reported using CAM therapies, with 33% reporting use of acupuncture/traditional Chinese medicine.

In conclusion, acupuncture and moxibustion could benefit mild-to-moderate CD patients as demonstrated in this study. Severe CD patients also may benefit from acupuncture and moxibustion as an adjunctive therapy.


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