Moxibustion benefits IBS for up to 12 weeks

Ethnopharmacological relevance: Moxibustion therapy is one of the traditional Chinese medicine external treatment methods, which involves crushing dried herb Artemisia argyi H. Lév. & Vanio and rolling it into a long cigarette-like strip, igniting it and using its warmth to stimulate specific acupuncture points for a certain period of time.

It is often used in Asia to treat various diseases, especially abdominal pain. Clinical reports suggest that acupuncture and moxibustion are the effective treatment for irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhoea. However, there is no placebo-controlled study to prove its safety and efficacy.

Objective: To evaluate the effects of mild moxibustion for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhoea through comparisons with those of placebo moxibustion.

Patients and methods: This was a single-site, randomized controlled trial was conducted at Shanghai Research Institute of Acupuncture and Meridian in China and enrolled 76 participants who met the Rome IV diagnostic criteria for irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhoea between May 2017 and December 2019. 76 participants were randomized to either mild moxibustion or placebo moxibustion group in a 1:1 ratio. 18 sessions of mild moxibustion or placebo moxibustion group were implemented over the course of 6 weeks (3 times per week). The primary outcome was adequate relief after 6 weeks of treatment.

Results: Of 76 patients with IBS-D who were randomized (38 in the mild moxibustion group and 38 in the PM group) were included in the intention-to-treat (ITT) analysis set. After treatment at week 6, the response rate was significantly higher in the mild moxibustion group than the placebo moxibustion group group (81.58% vs. 36.84%) with an estimated difference of 44.74 (95% CI, 23.46 to 66.02, P < 0.001). No participant reported severe adverse effects.

Conclusion: The findings suggest that mild moxibustion may be more effective than placebo moxibustion for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhoea, with effects lasting up to 12 weeks.


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About Attilio

Doctor of Chinese medicine, acupuncture expert and author of My Fertility Guide and My Pregnancy Guide.

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