A study appearing in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology (2006; 41(9): 1056-63) looked at the efficacy of acupuncture and moxibustion for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease. The 29 subjects who participated in the study were between the ages of 18 and 65 with mild to moderate ulcerative colitis. The subjects were evaluated with the Colitis Activity Index (CAI). The CAI looks at eight elements of the disease: hemoglobin, erythrocyte sedimentation rate (a blood test that shows the presence of inflammation), fever caused by the colitis, abdominal pain, number of soft or liquid stools, presence of blood in the stools, and extra intestinal manifestations.

The subjects were randomly divided into two groups. One group was treated with acupuncture. The other was treated using “sham” acupuncture, which is superficial needling of points that are not acupuncture points. Subjects were treated a total of 10 times over a five week period. Five of the subjects receiving acupuncture also received moxibustion. Moxibustion is the use of a heated, smoking substance that is placed over acupuncture points. Both groups experienced improvements in their CAI scores, with the acupuncture group experiencing more improvement than the control group. The group receiving the acupuncture also had slightly more improvement in general well being and quality of life compared to the control group.