Moxibustion

Alternate Title

Cupping

Synonyms

Acupuncture, baguanfa (Chinese: suction cup therapy), blood letting, chinetsukyu (Japanese: direct cone moxibustion), classical acupuncture, five element acupuncture, Korean belly bowls, kyukaku (Japanese: cupping), kyutoshin (Japanese: moxa on the head of the acupuncture needle), okyu (Japanese: rice-sized direct moxa), traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), zhenjiu (Chinese: acupuncture combined with moxibustion).

Not included in this review: Acupuncture, acupressure, classical acupuncture, five-element acupuncture, TCM.

Background

Cupping and moxibustion are healing techniques employed across the diverse traditions of acupuncture and oriental medicine for over 2,000 years.

In modern times, both methods are usually used to complement acupuncture with needles but they may be used independently.

Cupping and moxibustion share the principle of using heat to stimulate circulation and break up congestion or stagnation of blood and chi.

Cupping has some relation to the massage technique tuina, which uses rapid skin pinching at points on the back to break up congestion and stimulate circulation.

Moxibustion is more closely related to acupuncture as it is applied to specific acupuncture points, while cupping may be used over acupuncture points or elsewhere.

The literature on these techniques consists predominantly of opinion based on clinical experience, case reports, and a few case series reports in which the methods of observation and analysis are not clear or consistent. This does not mean the techniques do not work, but little of what has been reported can be evaluated as scientific evidence.

Cupping and moxibustion are healing techniques employed across the diverse traditions of acupuncture and oriental medicine for over 2,000 years.

In modern times, both methods are usually used to complement acupuncture with needles but they may be used independently.

Cupping and moxibustion share the principle of using heat to stimulate circulation and break up congestion or stagnation of blood and chi.

Cupping has some relation to the massage technique tuina, which uses rapid skin pinching at points on the back to break up congestion and stimulate circulation.

Moxibustion is more closely related to acupuncture as it is applied to specific acupuncture points, while cupping may be used over acupuncture points or elsewhere.

The literature on these techniques consists predominantly of opinion based on clinical experience, case reports, and a few case series reports in which the methods of observation and analysis are not clear or consistent. This does not mean the techniques do not work, but little of what has been reported can be evaluated as scientific evidence.

Theory

The actions of cupping and moxibustion are explained by theory from acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Specifically, health and illness are manifestations of the circulation of chi (vital energy or life energy) through the person. These techniques are used to influence the circulation of chi, or to alter its subtle qualities, in order to relieve symptoms in the body.

Heat is believed to be a potent force for influencing the flow or qualities of chi through the body.

Historically, one theory of action of moxibustion is that the local tissue damage (extended cellular damage by the intense heat of moxibustion) initiates a non-specific healing reaction that can have effects throughout the body, stimulated by production of immunological mediators and neurotransmitters.

It has been proposed that moxibustion elevates immune responses and stimulates the circulation of white blood cells in the body.

Moxa may have antiseptic (antibacterial) and analgesic (pain-relieving) effects, by virtue of one of its components, borneol, which is commonly applied to the skin.

Moxibustion may improve circulation and enhance localized drug uptake in areas of the body being targeted by therapeutic drugs.


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