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Studies Using Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine for Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease Show Promise

By: Vanessa Vogel Batt L.Ac. MSOM

A study published in 2014, entitled "Integrative Therapies and Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease: The Current Evidence," investigates many complementary therapies to help symptoms of pediatric inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). This is a group of chronic diseases which attack different parts of the digestive system. Ulcerative colitis (UC), affecting the colon only, and Crohn's disease (CD), which can strike anywhere along the digestive tract, are the two main diseases studied. Both produce symptoms of pain, ranging from mild to severe, as well as diarrhea.

Researchers compiled evidence regarding the efficacy of acupuncture to treat pediatric IBD. They evaluated three scientific studies. One study concluded that acupuncture reduces symptoms of mild to moderate cases of UC. Another study yielded similar results, vouching for the efficacy of acupuncture in cases of mild to moderate CD.

A third study focused on the use of moxibustion, a heat therapy involving the burning of an herb called mugwort. The smoke and heat enter the body to induce therapeutic actions. This study showed that moxibustion therapy reduced symptoms of IBD more effectively than the pharmaceutical drug sulfasalazine. This drug treats inflammation of the large intestine by reducing the swelling.

The final analysis revealed a need to keep investigating the potential of acupuncture and moxibustion therapy in the treatment of pediatric IBD. The belief is that quality of life may improve more easily when the use of pharmaceutical drugs declines. The drugs currently used for treatment of IBD may produce toxic side effects in pediatric patients.


Misra, S. M. (2014). Integrative Therapies and Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease: The Current Evidence. Children, 1(2), 149–165. Retrieved online at

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About the Author: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM, studied at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and practiced acupuncture and Oriental medicine in New York for several years. Vanessa enjoys traveling the world, and has published articles on acupuncture and Oriental medicine and related health topics for websites and publications in both the U.S. and abroad.

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