Traditional Chinese medicine for management of recurrent and refractory Crohn disease: A case report

Medicine (Baltimore). 2019 Apr;98(15):e15148. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000015148.


Introduction: Crohn disease (CD) is a chronic relapsing systemic inflammatory disease afflicting the gastrointestinal system with a high morbidity. There has been increasing clinical interest in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) treatment for CD. This report aims to present patient outcome of therapeutic management using TCM in combination with pharmacologic therapy.

Patient concerns: A 53-year-old woman with a more than 23-year history of chronic indigestion, reflux, abdominal pain, and excessive diarrhea, and a more than 21-year history of recurrent refractory CD. The condition had been managed for 21 years with ongoing pharmacologic therapy, and surgical intervention; however, with poor therapeutic effect.

Diagnosis: In this study, the diagnosis of CD was based on integrating patient symptoms and radiologic findings and biopsy results. The patient had no differential diagnosis.

Interventions: The patient received acupuncture treatment at an approximate frequency of once per week for a total of 21 sessions until November 5, 2018. The patient also received Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) on an as-needed basis to manage her symptoms.

Outcomes: Patient reported symptoms of chronic indigestion, reflux, abdominal pain, and excessive diarrhea were substantially improved by combined TCM and pharmacologic therapy intervention, while the dosage of her medication was reduced.

Conclusion: Following acupuncture treatment, improvements of subjective symptoms: chronic indigestion, reflux, abdominal pain, and excessive diarrhea, were observed. CHM provided immediate relief of indigestion, reflux, and abdominal pain. TCM may be a potential therapeutic strategy to manage clinical symptoms of CD, if this is proven useful in future RCT studies.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Crohn Disease / therapy*
  • Drug Resistance
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional*
  • Middle Aged
  • Recurrence


  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal