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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 379291, 7 pages
Review Article

The Mechanism of Moxibustion: Ancient Theory and Modern Research

1Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai 201203, China
2Shanghai Research Center of Acupuncture and Meridians, Shanghai 201203, China

Received 26 March 2013; Revised 23 June 2013; Accepted 3 August 2013

Academic Editor: Xinyan Gao

Copyright © 2013 Hongyong Deng and Xueyong Shen. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The moxibustion has a dual effect of tonification and purgation in TCM theories, which are based on two aspects: the actions of the meridian system and the roles of moxa and fire. Modern research works of the moxibustion mechanism mainly relate to the thermal effects, radiation effects, and pharmacological actions of moxa and its combustion products. Experimental results showed that moxibustion thermal stimulation affects both shallow and deep tissues of the skin, and the warm-heat effects of moxibustion have a close relation to the warm receptors or/and the polymodal receptor. The burning moxa radiation spectrum ranges from 0.8 to 5.6 μm; peak is nearby 1.5 μm, lying within the near infrared portion. There is an amazing consistency in the infrared spectrums of three types of indirect moxibustion and the unified spectrum of acupoints; all have their peaks of radiation near 10 μm. Lots of ingredients had been identified from mugwort leaves and moxa smoke, which have a variety of biological activities; they were considered to participate in the comprehensive effects of moxibustion. Although lots of research works have been carried out and made some progress, there is still a great distance from fully understanding the mechanism of moxibustion.