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Beijing University of Chinese Medicine recently conducted research evaluating acupuncture’s benefits in treating irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea (IBS-D). The team published the study in JAMA Network Open.

How researchers conducted the study

The team gathered 90 participants with IBS-D and offered them acupuncture with specific acupoints, non-specific acupoints, or sham acupuncture. The three groups each received between 12 and 30 minutes of the procedure for four weeks.

At the end of this period, the researchers found an improvement in all groups. The groups that received specific and non-specific acupoints had a 46.7% improvement. Meanwhile, the group that had sham acupuncture improved by 26.7%. Despite this, the differences between the groups weren’t statistically significant.

About 64.3% of the patients that received specific acupoints reported adequate relief, while 62.1% of those in the non-specific acupoints group reported the same. Another 55.2% in the sham acupuncture groups also reported sufficient relief. However, some participants reported adverse effects front the procedure. These included two people from the specific acupoints group and three in the non-specific acupoints group.

From these findings, the researchers concluded that acupuncture was a safe alternative for people with IBS-D. However, they need more clinical trials to test for its efficacy.

Other studies have evaluated the efficacy of acupuncture for IBS

The effectiveness of acupuncture in treating IBS is not certain, with the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health stating that there is no evidence that the traditional Chinese practice can treat anything other than pain. Despite this, many people have used the treatment to relieve their symptoms and reported anecdotal evidence.

The Beijing University of Chinese Medicine study is not the first to evaluate the efficacy of acupuncture in treating IBS. For example, a study in 2010 gave participants with the disease acupuncture, sham acupuncture, or no treatment. At the end of the trial period, there was no significant difference between the group that had received acupuncture or sham acupuncture. They, however, had more relief than those who hadn’t received treatment. These findings suggest that the improvements were due to a placebo effect.

Many other studies have looked into this phenomenon; hence, more data is vital to come to an answer.