Meta-Analysis Study Finds Acupuncture Effective for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine are commonly used to both treat and resolve a wide range of digestive issues.  While proper treatment generally requires both dietary and lifestyle changes on the part of the patient, the effect of acupuncture is still significant.

Chinese researchers in the world journal of gastroenterology recently conducted a meta-analysis study looking at the effectiveness of acupuncture on IBS symptoms.  They obtained related studies ranging in dates from 1966 to february 2013 and provided analysis of these studies.  Of all the studies, 6 randomized placebo controlled clinical trials met their inclusion criteria.

The researchers concluded that “acupuncture exhibits clinically and statistically significant control of IBS symptoms”.

A separate team went through 17 trials involving 1806 participants and found similar positive effects and many of those studies compared acupuncture with common western medical treatments.  The researchers in this study concluded – “patients reported greater benefits from acupuncture than from two antispasmodic drugs (pinaverium bromide and trimebutine maleate).”

Even though the majority of these studies show beneficial effects of acupuncture on IBS symptoms, these type of “syndromes” are difficult to study.  The true benefit of Chinese Medicine in a larger sense is the strength of it’s diagnostic framework.  The framework doesn’t label conditions per se, but rather it takes into account all of the individuals issues and formulates treatments that are for them as an entire entity (more on this in “What Does Acupuncture Treat?“).   The true value of Chinese Medicine for IBS, then, is in its ability to provide a comprehensive focused treatment for an individual.  With this focused approach the results are likely much higher than even those in clinical studies.