Inflammatory Bowel Disease

It is common within acupuncture practice to meet people with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and find that those people benefit from regular acupuncture. Crohns and ulcerative colitis are two of the the more common IBD.  However, acupuncture continues to struggle with convincing the medical profession in the UK that acupuncture can be better than drugs.

In 2013 Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Journal published this meta analysis and systematic review  They produced excellent results, showing that:

  • Zhou and Jin conducted an experiment on 220 patients comparing efficacy of sulfasalazine oral therapy(source)5. In a test group, the efficacy was 84,5% and was significantly higher than in a control group, in which it amounted to 68,2%.
 “Acupuncture + Moxa is more effective than pharmacotherapy (sulfasalazine) in the treatment of inflammatory diseases of intestines”
  • Stefanie Joos with her team published the results of two incredibly well-designed studies. The first one concerned the efficacy of acupuncture in treatment of Crohn’s disease(source)6. It was proved that acupuncture significantly better reduced the disease activity index than false acupuncture (250 +/- 51 do 163 +/- 56 in comparison to do 220 +/- 42 do 181 +/- 46). In both groups, the quality of patients’ life improved. Moreover, in the group treated with acupuncture the level of alpha 1 acid glycoprotein was significantly reduced.
  • Another work by the team of Stefanie Joos concerned the use of acupuncture in treatment of ulcerative colitis(source)7. Similarly, as in the case of Crohn’s disease, acupuncture proved to be more effective than false acupuncture in reducing of Colitis Activity Index from 8,0 +/- 3,4 to 4,2 +/- 2,4 in comparison to 6,5 +/- 3,2 to 4,8 +/- 3,9. The quality of life improved in both groups, with the trend favoring the acupuncture group.


However the conclusion of the 43 trials showing great results was that the research methodology was not rigorous enough. The results were not in question, but in 2010 new guidelines CONSORT (Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials) has put in place guidelines which if not followed can lead to results being ‘inconclusive’.  Acupuncture research has fallen victim of stricter scrutiny:

“However, randomised trials can yield biased results if they lack methodological rigour. To assess a trial accurately, readers of a published report need complete, clear, and transparent information on its methodology and findings. Unfortunately, attempted assessments frequently fail because authors of many trial reports neglect to provide lucid and complete descriptions of that critical information.” [accessed 22.8.17]

It is my opinion however that acupuncture can offer relief to sufferers of IBD and has much evidence to support this, including my own experience in practice.