Acupuncture for Crohn's

Acupuncture is a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine that has been used for thousands of years. It is often employed for pain management and symptom mitigation. While some are creeped out by the prospect of being stabbed with tiny needles from head to toe, it is a relatively painless treatment.

Starting acupuncture for Crohn's disease

When I first started acupuncture, I was in a very difficult period. My Crohn’s disease was as bad as it had ever been. I was just recovering from intestinal surgery and had severe problems digesting food. I was also in constant pain. Hence, I was willing to try almost anything.

Admittedly, the idea of lying on a table for an hour as some strange woman jabbed me with needles hardly seemed like Mardis Gras. Since the evidence that this could help with Crohn’s disease was murky at the time, I also doubted it would be worth the cost.

Still, I tried it, since I was desperate. What a pleasant surprise! The treatment didn’t really hurt. Mostly it relaxed me. Lying there on my back with these tiny needles in me, listening to meditation music, put me in a soothing trance. More to the point, I left each acupuncture session feeling energized. At times, it even attenuated my symptoms.

Differences by acupuncturist

In the ensuing years, I obtained acupuncture from a few different practitioners. I noticed they each practice slightly differently. There are certain key pressure points that target digestion that many acupuncturists focus on. But they go about targeting these points in different ways and change the protocol based on how you respond to each treatments session. For instance, sometimes I would lie on my stomach and get needles on my back, sometimes vice-versa, sometimes both.

Further, one acupuncturist would conduct acupuncture with electrical stimulation. This is not as terrifying as it sounds. Despite the name, it’s not at all like being given the electric chair on Death Row. In fact, your hair will not even be frizzed.

Rather electrical connectors are attached to the end of a few needles and a current run into your body that is thought to help with pain management. Does this make the treatment more effective? Not sure. But, as far as I could tell, it probably helped me to a certain extent.

Acupunctures benefits for Crohn's and colitis

While acupuncture is not a miracle cure, evidence has come out suggesting it may help manage IBD. The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation, for example, had this to say: "Some studies relevant to IBD reported that acupuncture and moxibustion improved GI symptoms, including: abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating, and nausea, as well as alleviating inflammation."

If interested, be sure to discuss this treatment option with your doctor. Autoimmune conditions are notoriously difficult to treat. Owing to the chronic nature of IBD, and its debilitating impact on metabolic wellness, most patients would likely benefit from a combination of traditional and alternative therapies. Acupuncture is one possible alternative treatment worth trying.

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