Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Good news for IBS sufferers as acupuncture proves beneficial

 A large trial of acupuncture for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) has shown that the treatment has significant benefits. British researchers at the University of York, led by Dr Hugh MacPherson, enrolled 233 patients who had suffered from IBS for an average of 13 years.  It has to be also noted that it was the same research team that investigated the benefits of acupuncture for non specific back pain. The results from that study have led to the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (N.I.C.E) recommending a course of acupuncture for non specific low back pain so these results may again influence the N.I.C.E guidleines.

Key symptoms of IBS included diarrhoea, constipation and abdominal pain, which often have a substantial impact on daily activities. Half the patients received 10 weekly individualised acupuncture sessions in addition to usual care, while the other half continued with usual care alone. Acupuncture was administered by experienced acupuncturists according to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, and each patient’s individual presentation. A common core of points (Hegu L.I.-4, Taichong LIV-3, Zusanli ST-36 and Sanyinjiao SP-6) were used in over 50% of treatments. Acupuncturists were also allowed to use some non-needle techniques, consistent with their routine practice. The most commonly used were moxibustion (13% of patients), tui na (9%) and acupressure (6%). In addition, acupuncturists were allowed to provide lifestyle advice, with a restriction against probiotics. In total, 68% of patients received lifestyle advice, most commonly concerning diet (56%), stress management (24%) and exercise (6%). At three months from baseline, the results showed a statistically significant difference between the two groups favouring acupuncture, with a reduction in the IBS Symptom Severity Score (SSS), a validated measure that combines the key symptoms of IBS. With a successful treatment being defined as at least a 50 point reduction in the IBS SSS, the results showed a 49% success rate in the acupuncture group against 31% in the control group, a difference between groups of 18%. This benefit was largely found to persist up to 12 months.
(Acupuncture for irritable bowel syndrome: primary care based pragmatic randomised controlled trial. BMC Gastroenterol. 2012 Oct 24;12(1):150. doi:10.1186/1471-230X-12-150 [Epub ahead of print].

 From my own clinical experience I found acupuncture to have some great benefits so when combined with dietary advice such as taking probitiocs (just one example)  you have a powerful tool for change.

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