Ulcerative colitis is a condition involving chronic inflammation of the bowels leading to rectal bleeding along with pain and/or urgency among other symptoms. It is thought to have at its basis an immune response possibly to a virus or bacterium that the body feels is not cleared or it may derive from an auto-immune response. Patients may experience relapsing remitting varieties or more chronic conditions that plague them.
Chinese Medicine is often used for the broad range of inflammatory bowel diseases including ulcerative colitis, crohn's disease, and more general complaints such as chronic diarrhea, cramping, etc. In a recent animal study researchers from the Yueyang Hospital of Integrated Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine at Shanghai University studied in detail the effects of moxibustion (See "What Is Moxibustion?") on the intestinal flora and immune responses.
Researchers created a rat model of ulcerative colitis (UC) by distributing colonic contents from human UC patients. They then divided 40 rats into a normal group, model group (UC), moxibustion treatment group and a positive control sulfasalazine (Azulfidine) treated group.
Within the moxibustion group the following acupuncture points were treated daily for 15 minutes for 8 days total:
Levels of intestinal flora were analyzed as well as immunohistochemical assays to observe TNF-α and IL-12 expressions which are indicators of inflammation/immune responses.
Researchers found that immune reactions were decreased in both the moxibustion group and the western medication group with slightly better responses in the moxibustion group. They also found intestinal flora improvements in both the western medication group and the moxibustion group with better responses overall in the moxibustion group. They concluded that moxibustion treatment can "regulate intestinal flora and inhibit the expression of TNF-α and IL-12".
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