Acupuncture, Inflammatory Bowel Disease & Crohn’s Disease
Can acupuncture and Chinese Medicine help people suffering with inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s disease or Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
It’s a good question. From a Western viewpoint, Crohn’s disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome are seen as inflammatory bowel disorders. There are various tests your Western medical professional will have most likely undertaken in order to come up with a diagnosis.
As a Chinese Medicine practitioner, the name of the ‘disease’ is of less interest to us. Rather, we are really interested in the signs and symptoms that our patients bring to us – constipation or symptoms that mimic irritable bowel syndrome etc.
For example, AHPRA ( the governing body of Australian Health Professionals ) forbids us to say conclusively that we are able to ‘treat’ inflammatory bowel disorders. Being a body that requires scientific evidence, they require a ‘Systematic Review’ ( which is a review of all good quality trials to date ), to help confirm whether or not an intervention offers any help to something like, say, Crohn’s disease.
To date, we have seen a positive review (1) from 2013 stating that “Acupuncture and moxibustion therapy demonstrates better efficacy than oral SASP in treating IBD”. However, this report also asks for better quality and larger Randomised Control Trials to help clarify acupuncture’s role.
Likewise the Acupuncture Evidence Project (2), reports that there the reviewers could not make conclusive recommendations from the research as larger scale trials were needed. So whilst some positive outcomes were seen, we eagerly await the reviews of the next wave of clinical trials surrounding acupuncture and inflammatory bowel disease.
- Ji, J. et al Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:158352. doi: 10.1155/2013/158352. Epub 2013 Sep 24.
- McDonald J, Janz S. The Acupuncture Evidence Project: A Comparative Literature Review (Revised Edition). Brisbane: Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine