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Moxibustion

A physician using a combined moxibustion and acupuncture treatment, Taiwan, 2004.

A physician using a combined moxibustion and acupuncture treatment, Taiwan, 2004.

Credits:Mark de Fraeye, Wellcome Images

Moxibustion is a technique used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as an addition or alternative to acupuncture and cupping. Small cones of cigarette-shaped cylinders of artemisia (a type of wormwood) are burnt while being held just above the skin at specific points. The technique seems to have emerged in China around the 200s - 400s CE.

A moxibustion manual was first printed in China around 1050, forming a kind of companion to the manuals accompanying the bronze man statues explaining acupuncture. It included diagrams of moxibustion points on the body - these are normally, but not exclusively, the same as acupuncture points.

Moxibustion is used as a prophylactic, or preventative treatment, within TCM, and is often included in first-aid kits. It is generally used for ongoing, chronic conditions, while acupuncture is used for acute illness, but the two techniques are frequently used together.

 

Related links

Bibliography

L Gwei -Djen and J Needham, Celestial Lancets: A History and Rationale of Acupuncture and Mox (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980)

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