Published online May 28, 2014. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v20.i20.6044
Revised: February 13, 2014
Accepted: February 26, 2014
Published online: May 28, 2014
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional intestinal disease characterized by abdominal pain or discomfort and altered bowel habits. It has drawn great attention because of its high prevalence, reoccurring symptoms, and severe influence on patients’ lives. Many clinical studies have demonstrated the efficacy of acupuncture-moxibustion in treating IBS. Increasing attention has been paid to research regarding the action mechanisms of acupuncture-moxibustion for IBS, and the adoption of modern techniques has achieved some progress. This article reviews the latest advances among action mechanism studies from the perspectives of gastrointestinal motility, visceral hypersensitivity, the brain-gut axis, the neuroendocrine system, and the immune system. It is shown that acupuncture-moxibustion can effectively regulate the above items, and thus, this treatment should have a high efficacy in the treatment of IBS. This article also identifies existing problems in current mechanism research and raises several ideas for future studies. Further revelations regarding these action mechanisms will promote the application of acupuncture-moxibustion in treating IBS.
Core tip: This is a review of the latest advances made towards identifying the action mechanisms of acupuncture-moxibustion in treating irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). How does this ancient therapy affect gastrointestinal motility, visceral hypersensitivity, the brain-gut axis, the neuroendocrine system, the immune system, and other factors involved in the pathogenesis of IBS? This paper details answers to these questions.