Moxibustion, also called moxa treatment, traditional medical practice that originated in China and thence spread to Japan and other Asian countries. It is performed by burning small cones of dried leaves on certain designated points of the body, generally the same points as those used in acupuncture.
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. The insulating materials of indirect moxibustion can be air, garlic, ginger, aconite, salt, and so forth. Drug moxibustion, also named nature moxibustion, uses irritant drugs (such as cantharis, garlic, and semen sinapis) to coat the surface of acupoints and make local skin flushed and blistered to cure diseases. Modern moxibustions, such as microwave moxibustion, laser moxibustion, and electrothermal moxibustion, are used to simulate traditional moxibustion stimulation factors by physical or chemical methods to achieve therapeutic effects of moxibustion. Usually, narrow sense of moxibustion refers to the traditional moxibustion with moxa. This review will concentrate on the ancient theory and modern mechanism research of traditional moxibustion.
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