Acupuncture and Moxibustion have been used for decades as an effective form of treatment for those with Crohn’s disease. A series of recent studies have found the cellular mechanism through which acupuncture and moxibustion are able to achieve these results. The researchers have found through a series of randomized controlled studies that acupuncture and moxibustion treatments are able to regulate the levels of immune cells throughout the body and the gastrointestinal tract and restore a homeostatic balance of the immune system.
Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune disease that affects a large number of people around the world, but effects a larger number of those people of Scandinavian and Ashkenazim Jewish descent. Crohn’s disease is classified as an inflammatory bowel disease, similar to but different from ulcerative colitis. Crohn’s disease is marked by inflammation throughout the entire gastrointestinal tract and can have patchy areas of ulcers, growths, lesions, and inflammation through the GI tract. Most people with the disease begin to experience symptoms in their late teens to 20s. The disease has no known medical cure, and is often treated with steroid medications, anti-inflammatory medications, and immuno-suppressant drugs.
Research indicates that the inflammation throughout the intestines characteristic of those people with Crohn’s is due to an imbalance of immune cells in their bodies. Anti-inflammatory cells that are able to reduce intestinal mucosal inflammation are found in very low numbers while Pro-inflammatory cells that are usually employed by the body to fight infections are found in very high concentrations. The result is constant inflammation of the intestinal tract resulting in low appetite, fatigue, nausea, pain, abnormal bowel movements, and possible fissures of the anus and mouth. While the absolute cause of Crohn’s is yet unknown, some signs point to a possible genetic link, while others suggest that Crohn’s like many autoimmune diseases may have a dietary link associated with the so-called “leaky-gut syndrome” where food is erringly absorbed into the blood stream and causes an immune response that also codes for the body’s own tissues.
The acupuncture researchers used a series of common points to treat patients three times a week for twelve weeks as well as moxibustion treatments using an herbal partition on 3 other points. They found that a balance between the immune cells was reached and returned to normal levels as the pro-inflammatory Th-17 cells were decreased and the anti-inflammatory Treg cells increased resulting in a marked decrease in intestinal mucosal inflammation. Other inflammatory markers such as CRP, or C-Reactive Protein, were also greatly reduced in the acupuncture patients. Patients also exhibited improvement on the Crohn’s Disease Activity Index, CDAI, a diagnostic tool used to measure a patient’s quality of life and disease activity. The researcher’s summarized that acupuncture and herb partitioned moxibustion are another useful treatment for those with Crohn’s disease. While these are only 2 studies, they are adding to the greatly growing amount of research on the effectiveness of acupuncture and moxibustion for Crohn’s disease.
Personally having lived with Crohn’s for the last 12 years, I can personally attest to the effectiveness of Chinese medicine in the treatment of Crohn’s. It has been immensely helpful in helping me lead a full life. If you have any questions about Chinese Medicine, Crohn’s or any other health issue, please do not hesitate to call or email me, I would love to speak with you!
To read a summary of the research click here.