Comparison of electroacupuncture and moxibustion on brain-gut function in patients with diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome: A randomized controlled trial

Ji meng Zhao, Jin hua Lu, Xiao jun Yin, Xing kui Chen, Yue hua Chen, Wei jun Tang, Xiao ming Jin, Lu yi Wu, Chun hui Bao, Huan gan Wu, Yin Shi

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11 Scopus citations


Objective: To compare the effects of electroacupuncture (EA) and moxibustion therapies on patients with diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (D-IBS). Methods: A total of 60 D-IBS patients were randomly allocated to the EA group (30 cases) and moxibustion group (30 cases). Before and after treatment, the gastrointestinal symptoms and psychological symptoms were scored by Visual Analogue Scale, Bristol Stool Form Scale, Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAMA), and Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD); the expressions of 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT), 5-HT3 receptor (5-HT3R), and 5-HT4 receptor (5-HT4R) in the sigmoid mucosal tissue were measured by immunohistochemical staining. Additionally, the effects on the functional brain areas of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), insular cortex (IC) and prefrontal cortex (PFC) were observed by functional magnetic resonance imaging. Results: Compared with before treatment, both EA and moxibustion groups reported significant improvements in abdominal pain and abdominal bloating after treatment (P<0.01 or P<0.05). The moxibustion group reported greater improvements in defecation emergency, defecation frequency, and stool feature than the EA group (P<0.01). Both HAMA and HAMD scores were significantly decreased in the moxibustion group than in the EA group (P<0.01). Both groups demonstrated signifificantly reduced expressions of 5-HT, 5-HT3R and 5-HT4R in the colonic mucosa after treatment (P<0.01), with a greater reduction of 5-HT in the moxibustion group (P<0.05). Finally, decreased activated voxel values were observed in the left IC, right IC and PFC brain regions of patients in the moxibustion group under stimulation with 150 mL colorectal distension after treatment (P<0.05 or P<0.01), while in the EA group only PFC area demonstrated a reduction (P<0.05). Conclusion: Moxibustion can signifificantly improve the symptoms of D-IBS, suggesting that moxibustion may be a more effective therapy than EA for D-IBS patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)855-865
Number of pages11
JournalChinese Journal of Integrative Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Apr 6 2015



  • diarrhea
  • electroacupuncture
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • moxibustion
  • randomized controlled trial

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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