Patients with ulcerative colitis (UC) are seen and regularly treated by practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine. UC is a potentially chronic inflammatory condition of the colon. In the US, it appears in approximately 500,000 people at any given time, and global incidences vary but range from ~.5 to ~24.5 per 100,000 people. Largely considered an autoimmune condition, the inflammation of the colon is caused by an abnormal or excessive response by the body's immune system. This inflammation can lead to ulcerations which can complicate the issue leading to internal bleeding, infections, frequent bowel movements, poor assimilation and other issues.
Recently researchers from the Department of Acupuncture and Massage at Liaoning University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Shenyang, China conducted a study evaluating the affects of moxibustion (see "What is Moxibustion?") on a rat ulcerative colitis model. They were looking specifically to see the tissue and immune related responses from the application of moxibustion.
They utilized 32 rats that were divided into a control group (6) and a group with induced uc (26). Within the treatment group they were further divided into various moxibustion treatment methods including a 9 moxa cone (~9 minutes of moxa), a 6 cone group and a 3 cone group as well as a wait list group. The rats were treated every other day for 28 days (14 treatments in all).
The evaluated the following factors:
The researchers found that the largest decrease in disease activity was in the 9 moxa cone group and it was highest in the wait list (no treatment) group. In general all of the moxa groups showed positive changes with the 9 moxa cone group showing statistically better results than the 6 and 3. They found that:
They concluded that "Moxibustion repairs damaged colonic mucosa, suppresses serum IL-8, activates serum IL-10 level, and decreases expression of TLR-9 and NF-κB p65 in UC rats." Which largely implies that moxibustion stimulates the body to decrease inflammation and promote the healing responses.
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