Dr Eric Manheimer and colleagues from Maryland, USA conducted a new systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials to estimate the effects of acupuncture for treating IBS.The team searched MEDLINE, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, EMBASE, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health, and the Chinese databases Sino-Med, CNKI, and VIP were searched through 2011,according to Astudy in this month's issue of the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

The team found no difference between acupuncture and Bifidobacterium or between acupuncture and psychotherapy.
Acupuncture as an adjuvant to another Chinese medicine treatment was statistically significantly better than the other treatment alone, in trials with a high risk of bias.Dr Manheimer's team concludes, "Sham-controlled randomized controlled trials have found no benefits of acupuncture relative to a credible sham acupuncture control on IBS symptom severity or IBS-related quality of life."
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Reference:Acupuncture for Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Eric Manheimer MS1, L Susan Wieland PhD1, Ke Cheng PhD, LAc2, Shih Min Li MD, PhD3, Xueyong Shen MD2, Brian M Berman MD1 and Lixing Lao PhD, LAc1

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common, costly, and difficult to treat disorder that impairs health‐related quality of life and work productivity. Evidence‐based treatment guidelines have been unable to provide guidance on the effects of acupuncture for IBS because the only previous systematic review included only small, heterogeneous and methodologically unsound trials.
For psychological treatment options, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness, gut-directed hypnotherapy, and psychodynamic therapy, the evidence supporting their use in IBS patients is strong, but the availability limits their use in clinical practice. Dietary interventions are commonly included in the management of IBS patients, but these are primarily based on studies assessing physiological function in relation to dietary components, and to a lesser degree upon research examining the role of dietary components in the therapeutic management of IBS. Several probiotic products improve a range of symptoms in IBS patients. Physical activity is of benefit for health in general and recent data implicates its usefulness also for IBS patients. Acupuncture does not seem to have an effect beyond placebo in IBS. A beneficial effect of some herbal treatments has been reported. source:Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 2012 Jun 4

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About placebo of acupuncture

Cues and associations given to people affected their responses to placebos and active treatments in a crossover trial, suggesting that the placebo effect depends more on "state" than "trait," researchers said.

Compared with no treatment, healthy volunteers who received placebo pills or genuine acupuncture both showed significantly increased pain thresholds in average, whereas sham acupuncture did not, according to Jian Kong, MD, MPH, of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues.

But sham acupuncture -- and not placebo pills -- correlated significantly with responses to genuine acupuncture, the researchers reported in PLoS ONE.

With placebo responses, "trait" may take a backseat to "state" in a clinical setting, they suggested, with patients' expectations as conditioned by circumstances of the particular pain-relief intervention dictating their responses.

The study involved 71 healthy, acupuncture-naïve individuals, ages 21 to 37, recruited for two experiments.