Moxibustion is a kind of external treatment; it is based on the theory of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), and it usually bakes acupoints with burning moxa wool. Moxibustion can dredge meridians and regulate qi-blood and has been used to prevent and cure diseases for more than 2500 years. Zuo zhuan of the pre-Qin dynasty in China, which recorded a disease discussion occurred in 581 B.C., is considered to be the earliest literature of moxibustion. The silk books discovered in Mawangdui tomb of the Han dynasty (about 168 B.C.), Moxibustion Classic of Eleven Foot-hand Meridians and Prescriptions for Fifty-two Diseases, had documented the use of moxibustion to treat complex diseases. There are a lot of moxibustion contents in Inner Canon of Huangdi; it inferred that the origin of moxibustion is related to the living habits and disease characteristics of northern Alpine nation in the part of Su wen, Yi fa fang yi lun. Later doctors after Han dynasty had made considerable progress in theory and practice on moxibustion and promoted moxibustion to be a mature and widely used therapy.
Moxibustion has been applied in treating a great range of diseases. A bibliometric analysis on the papers published from 1954 to 2007 in China showed that up to 364 kinds of diseases can be treated with moxibustion. The most proper indications of moxibustion therapy are malposition, diarrhea, and colitis; the common proper indications are urinary incontinence and dysmenorrhea; the next common proper indications are knee osteoarthritis, temporomandibular joint disturbance syndrome, soft tissue injury, heel pain, asthma, urinary retention, and herpes zoster . Moxibustion can also be used to treat weakness, fatigue, and aging related problems. Moxibustion can be classified as traditional moxibustion, drug moxibustion, and modern moxibustion. Traditional moxibustion therapy is the most commonly used in the ancient and contemporary moxibustion clinics; it is characterized by the use of moxa as burning material and can be divided into direct moxibustion and indirect moxibustion depending on whether moxa is directly in contact with the skin while operating. A moxa cone placed directly on the skin and ignited is called direct moxibustion, while the moxa kept at certain distance from the skin is called indirect moxibustion.
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