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What is Moxibustion?

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

Moxibustion is a traditional Chinese medical intervention that involves the burning of moxa (Artemisia Vulgaris or mugwort) at the acupuncture points. One form of moxibustion applies it directly to the skin surface at the acupuncture point, whereas the indirect form of moxibustion places insulation materials ( ginger, salts) between the moxa cone and the skin.

Unlike acupuncture stimulation, which involves thrusting or twisting needles resulting in various biochemical reactions that can produce effects thought the body, moxibustion uses heat stimulation at carious temperature levels from burning. Therapeutic indications for moxibustion include stomach pain, women health, fertility, nausea, dyspepsia, dysmenorrhea, knee osteoarthritis, diarrhoea, asthma, stroke, cancer, and hypertension, and others.

Two RCT’s demonstrated that moxibustion as adjunctive therapy is more effective for reduction of chemotherapy-related side effects, especially nausea and vomiting than chemotherapy alone.

The studies claimed that Moxibustion treatment is work in :

  • Increasing spinal cord concentrations of dynorphin and endomorphin

  • Decreasing the relative hypothalamic CRH mRNA expression level

  • Reduce 5 hydroxytryptamine concentrations in the colon.

  • Antitumor effects

  • Regulating of renal function and hormone secretion with body fluid metabolism

  • Causing mast cell degranulation

  • Immunomodulation.

  • Decreasing gastric injury and apoptosis of gastric mucosal cells while increasing mucosal expression of transforming growth factor.

  • Inhibiting sphincter of Oddi (The sphincter of Oddi is a muscular valve that controls the flow of digestive juices (bile and pancreatic juice) through ducts from the liver and pancreas into the first part of the small intestine (duodenum). Sphincter of Oddi dysfunction (SOD) describes the situation when the sphincter does not relax at the appropriate time (due to scarring or spasm). The back-up of juices causes episodes of severe abdominal pain.) and internal anal sphincter motility through the nitrergic neural release of NO (nitric oxide)

  • Cardioprotection through electroacupuncture and by local hematotheraml (Warm-blooded)stimulation

Increasing spinal cord concentration of dynorphin and endomorphin

A research reported that moxibustion can significantly enhance the pain threshold of rats with chronic visceral hyperalgesia and that this effect may be closely related to increased spinal cord concentrations of dynorphin and endomorphin. The moxibustion was applied bilaterally to the Tiashu and Shanjuxu acupoints, suing a fine moxibustion stick with the smouldered end held 2 cm away from the acupoints. Once-daily for 10 min each time, 7 times in total. Moxibustion significantly decreased visceral pain caused by colorectal distension in the rat model and also increased spinal corf concentrations of dynorphin and endomorphin.

Decreasing the relative hypothalamic CRH mRNA expression level.

In another study bilateral moxibustion at the acupoint ST25 (Supreme Unity, Taiyi,太乙)and ST37 (Upper Great Hollow, Shangjuxu,上巨虛) acupoint significantly decreased visceral sensitivity to colorectal distension in rats and also decreased the hypothalamic CRH mRNA expression level relative to control level.

Reducing 5-Hydroxytryptamine concentrations in the Colon

The research evaluated the effects of moxibustion on rectal sensory thresholds and analyzed its possible mechanisms in the treatment of the chronic visceral hypersensitivity in rats. Moxibustion at ST25 (bilateral) increased the pain threshold and restored normal sensitivity by reducing 5 hydroxytryptamine concentrations in the rat colon.

Antitumor effects

The effects of moxibustion on serum interleukin -2 and interleukin 12 level (Interleukin 12 is an interleukin that is naturally produced by dendritic cells, macrophages, neutrophils, and human B-lymphoblastoid cells in response to antigenic stimulation..) as well as on Natural killer cell and ascitic tumour cell activities, in tumour-bearing mice. They found that moxibustion can inhibit tumour growth, in direct relation to the increase in serum IL-2 and IL-12 levels and the enhancing natural killer cell activities,

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