Background: Moxibustion is increasingly used for treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. This study investigated the long-term effects of moxibustion for IBS with diarrhea.
Methods: Patients with IBS-D were assigned to receive moxibustion or sham moxibustion (52 each, 3× per week, 6 weeks) and were followed up to 24 weeks. The acupoints were bilateral ST 25 and ST 36, body surface temperatures at acupoints were 43°C ± 1°C and 37°C ± 1°C for the moxibustion and sham groups, respectively.
Primary outcome was changes in irritable bowel syndrome Adequate Relief (IBS-AR) from baseline to 6 weeks. Secondary outcomes included the following: irritable bowel syndrome symptom severity scale (IBS-SSS), Bristol stool form scale (BSS), irritable bowel syndrome quality of life (IBS-QOL), and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS).
Results: Based on an intention-to-treat analysis, the rate of IBS-AR in the moxibustion group was significantly higher than the sham group at 6 weeks (76.9% versus 42.3%; p < 0.001); the mean decrease of total IBS-BSS score in the moxibustion group was lower than that of the sham group (-116.9 versus -61.5; p < 0.001), both of which maintained throughout the follow-up period. Five specific domains of the IBS-SSS were lower in the moxibustion group than the sham, throughout (p < 0.001).
At week 6, the rate of reduction >50 points in IBS-SSS of the treatment group was significantly higher than that of the sham (p < 0.001), which persisted throughout the follow-up period. Similar long-lasting improvements were observed in BSS, stool frequency, and stool urgency (p < 0.001). Improvements of IBS-QOL and HADS were comparable between the groups.
Conclusions: Moxibustion treatment benefits the long-term relief of symptoms in IBS with diarrhea patients.