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Moxibustion

Synonyms/Common Names/Related Substances:

  • Aconite cake-separated moxibustion, acu-moxi, acu-moxibustion, acupuncture, acupuncture combined with moxibustion, acu-moxibustion, baguanfa (Chinese), angelica-cake moxibustion, baguazhang, bird-pecking moxibustion, blood letting, chinetsukyu (Japanese), cake-separated moxibustion, cake-separated mild-warm moxibustion, circling moxibustion, classical acupuncture, coining, cone moxibustion, cotton sheet moxibustion, crude herb moxibustion, cupping, direct cone moxibustion, Dogbi (ST35) & Sulan moxibustion, drug-separated moxibustion, du-moxibustion, dynamic moxibustion, electronic moxibustion, electrothermal Bian-stone moxibustion, five element acupuncture, garlic moxibustion, ginger-partitioned moxibustion, ginger-salt-partitioned moxibustion, grain-shaped moxibustion, hand moxibustion, hanging moxibustion, heat-sensitive moxibustion, herb-partitioned spread moxibustion, herbal-moxa moxibustion, horn technique, isolated moxibustion, isolated-herbal moxibustion, jiaofa, jinger moxibustion, Korean belly bowls, kyukaku (Japanese), kyutoshin (Japanese), liquid cupping, long snake moxibustion, medicated thread moxibustion, medicated threads moxibustion of Zhuang nationality, mild moxibustion, mild-warm moxibustion, monkshood cake-separated mild-warm moxibustion, moving moxibustion, moxa, moxa on the head of the acupuncture needle, moxibustion-massage apparatus, okyu (Japanese), partition-herb moxibustion, partition-bran moxibustion, pecking moxibustion, rice-sized direct moxa, shuiguanfa (Chinese), snake moxibustion, solar-term moxibustion, sparrow-pecking moxibustion, substance-partitioned moxibustion, suction cup therapy, suspended moxibustion, suspending moxibustion, TCM, thin cotton moxibustion, tortoise-shell moxibustion, traditional box moxibustion, Traditional Chinese Medicine, warming moxibustion, warming-cup moxibustion, warming needle moxibustion, zhenjiu (Chinese), zhou's pecking moxibustion pen.
  • Not included in this review: Acupuncture (alone), acupressure, classical acupuncture, five element acupuncture, TCM. For a more in-depth review of these topics, please see individual monographs.
  • Note: The SMATH® system (system for automatic thermomechanic massage in health) is a medical device combining the principles of mechanical massage, thermotherapy, acupressure, infrared therapy, and moxibustion.
  • Note: Moxibustion has been extensively studied in China. However, the majority of these studies are currently unavailable for inclusion in this monograph. Available research, in some cases found in systematic reviews and meta-analyses, has been included in the evidence discussion.

Clinical Bottom Line/Effectiveness

Brief Background:

  • Moxibustion uses heat to stimulate circulation and break up congestion or stagnation of blood and chi. Moxibustion is closely related to acupuncture as it is applied to specific acupuncture points. Moxibustion is a healing technique that has been employed across the diverse traditions of acupuncture and oriental medicine for over 2,000 years. In modern times, it is usually used to complement acupuncture with needles, but it is also used independently. According to secondary sources, moxibustion involves the burning of mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris); however, the method of application may differ. For example, it may be applied directly, such as with acupuncture needles, indirectly, over a medium such as ginger, or suspended (held) over the acupoint.
  • The literature on moxibustion consists of opinion based on clinical experience, case reports, case series, controlled trials, and randomized controlled trials. However, the evaluation of moxibustion is difficult as it is often used in combination with other methods, particularly acupuncture. Also, as with acupuncture practice in general, treatment theory calls for a high degree of individualization per patient, making standardization of treatments across large samples of subjects for comparison purposes often impractical. Although, a technique of sham moxibustion was validated (1) and a placebo needle has been developed for blinding of investigators in studies using acupuncture needles (often used in combination with moxibustion) (2;3;4), by far the majority of studies are not blinded leading to a high risk of bias.
  • Manheimer et al. suggested that evidence with respect to moxibustion, as available in Cochrane systematic reviews is mainly poor quality and available in a small number of studies (5). Other authors have also suggested that the quality of moxibustion clinical trials is poor (6). Thus, although there are a large number of available randomized and non-randomized controlled trials in the moxibustion field, conclusions cannot be drawn.

Dosing/Toxicology

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Precautions/Contraindications

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Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

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Mechanism of Action

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History

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Evidence Table

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Evidence Discussion

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Products Studied

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.