Published on 08-16-2011
Moxibustion (see "what is moxibustion" for a general introduction to the technique) is an often used treatment modality within Chinese Medicine primarily to strengthen the body and move stagnation. Researchers from Fudan University in Shanghai recently conducted an animal study to better understand the internal effects of moxibustion on the colon specifically.
Moxibustion may be either direct or indirect and this study used an indirect method which is commonly performed on human with a moxa roll. The animal population used within the study (rats) were developed with chronic visceral hypersensitivy (CVH) which is related to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and related complaints in humans. Moxibustion was used for 30 minutes daily over a period of 7 days on two pairs of acupuncture points - ST 25 (digestive/intestinal issues) and ST 37 (more acute digestive/intestinal issues). There was an untreated control group to aid the analysis.
Analysis was performed using the abdominal withdrawal reflex rates and the mRNA levels of the hypothalamic corticotropin-relasing hormone (CRH) were analyzed. Corticotropin-releasing hormone is related to lessening motility of the colon under stress responses which is an important determinant in IBS among humans.
Researchers found that moxibustion siginficantly reduced sensitivity in the colon and decreased CRH mRNA expression to normal levels.
As moxibustion is relatively safe and an easy to perform self-help/home remedy these types of studies are important to better understand the internal mechanisms of moxibustion. A similar study found positive changes with the same measures from electro-acupuncture treatment. Further studies should be done to evaluate whether both treatments together in a human model would be superior to either alone.
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