2009 Lyantonde, Uganda. 18 Health Workers were speculatively trained in the Moxa protocol.
2010 Kampala, Uganda. Kiswa Health Center. 12 month Pilot Study. Over 100 TB patients trained to use moxa and about 50 completed 12 month course.
2011 Capetownn, South Africa. Two similar pilot studies completed. Similar responses were reported as in the Kampala pilot.
2012 Makerere University, Phase II RCT started. Ongoing and due to complete January 2016.
FIRST TRIP to LYANTONDE
In 2009 Jenny Craig and Merlin Young went to Lyantonde, Uganda, on a fact finding trip. Lyantonde is a truck stop town four hours west of Kampala on the main arterial road connecting Rwanda and the Congo to East Africa and the Indian Ocean (MAP). It is also home to the first ever officially recorded case of AIDS in Africa.
We wanted to see how health workers would respond to direct moxibustion, to smouldering plant material on their skin, and if they would view it as an acceptable form of treatment. We also wanted to see how easy it would be to teach large groups of health workers the TB moxa protocol in a short period of time.
18 Health Workers signed up and quickly got to grips with the protocol. This first trip was a great success.
PILOT STUDY in KAMPALA
Jenny and Merlin returned to Uganda and set up a 12 month pilot study at Kiswa Health Center in Kampala with the help of the indefatigable Allen Magezi. Health Workers were trained and they in turn trained TB patients and their 'buddies'. The aim was to build up to a minimum of eighty patients who will be receiving daily moxa treatment and will be monitored on at least a monthly basis - including health indicators, CD4 count where applicable, weight etc.
After a few months patient enrolment was increasing at such a rate that we decided to cap numbers at 100, so as not to overburden the investigative arm of the pilot.
Over 100 patients have been trained but the total number is unknown. Many dropped out for reasons including fatigue, lack of motivation, alcoholism or death. At the end of the study about 50 patients were using moxa every day, all of whom had completed or were still enrolled in the 6 month course of first line TB drugs. Unfortunately, due to many constraints, regular patient assessment was patchy but anecdotal reports from patients and medical staff was very encouraging.
Patients who were confirmed to be using the treatment regularly reported the following: improved appetite, weight gain, reduced joint pains, reduced peripheral neuropathy, and a general increase in strength and energy. Of special note, patients co-infected with HIV reported similar positive outcomes as the TB only group.
The health workers were also convinced that patients supplementing their TB drugs with Moxa were recovering faster and with fewer side effects.
Whilst we are unable to draw any specific conclusions from the above, some potentially highly significant hypotheses can be construed which we believe will be worthy of further more targeted controlled research:
1. That compliance to standard TB treatment (which is one of the major problems for the containment of the disease because of the frequent pernicious side effects of the medication) might be improved if moxa were to be widely used alongside first line drugs.
2. That the infectious period of the disease might be shortened when moxa is used with drugs. This would be relatively simple to measure, and, if proved, would suggest that moxa might help reduce the spread of the disease in Africa.
3. That patients co-infected with both TB and HIV/AIDS could particularly benefit from moxa treatment. These patients are repeatedly reported in the medical literature as being particularly challenging to treat, and the combination of these two lethal diseases is a particular problem to treating TB in Africa with little existing evidence base to support the treatment methods used on the continent.