AIM: The purpose of this pilot study was to assess the effect of an individualized traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) acupuncture and moxibustion (Acu/Moxa) treatment on symptom control in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in a preliminary, randomized, sham/placebo-controlled trial.
METHOD: Twenty-nine men and women with IBS were randomized to either individualized Acu/Moxa (treatment group) or sham/placebo Acu/Moxa (control group). All subjects were assessed by a diagnostic acupuncturist for a TCM evaluation and individualized point prescription. Only those subjects assigned to the experimental group received the individually prescribed treatment. The diagnostic acupuncturist did not administer treatments and was blind to treatment assignments. All subjects kept a symptom diary for the duration of the study, enabling measurement of symptom frequency, severity, and improvement. The Clinical Global Impression Scale was administered preintervention to establish baseline severity and on completion of the 4-week, eight-session treatment intervention.
RESULTS: After 4 weeks of twice-weekly Acu/Moxa treatment, average daily abdominal pain/discomfort improved whereas the control group showed minimal reduction. This between-group difference adjusted for baseline difference was statistically significant. The intestinal gas, bloating, and stool consistency composite score showed a similar pattern of improvement.
CONCLUSION: The findings indicate that Acu/Moxa treatment shows promise in the area of symptom management for IBS.