|Can affect any part of the GI tract (from the mouth to the anus). Most often it affects the portion of the small intestine just before the large intestine (colon)||Occurs only in the large intestine (colon) and the rectum|
|Damaged areas appear in patches that are next to areas of healthy tissue||Damaged areas are continuous (not patchy), and usually start at the rectum and then spread up into the colon|
|Inflammation may reach through the multiple layers of the walls of the GI tract||Inflammation is present only in the innermost layer of the lining of the colon|
CD and UC also have many common features, particularly:
- Persistent diarrhea
- Abdominal pain
- Rectal bleeding/bloody stools
- Weight loss
Although the precise causes of IBD are not yet fully understood, it is commonly accepted that IBDs occurs as a result of interactions between the intestinal mucosa and the intestinal microflora or their byproducts, leading to dysregulated inflammation in a genetically susceptible host. In recent years rates of IBD have increased in many countries, including in areas where IBD was previously seen rarely. Both CD and UC can begin at any age, with around a quarter of individuals diagnosed in childhood.
There has been much research looking at the mechanisms of action and efficacy of acupuncture for the treatment of IBDs. A 2013 meta-analysis* of randomized controlled trials demonstrated that acupuncture treatment demonstrated better overall efficacy than pharmaceutical medications in treating IBDs.
*Acupuncture and Moxibustion for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013; 2013: 158352. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3800563/