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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 895914, 7 pages
Review Article

Mechanisms Underlying the Analgesic Effect of Moxibustion on Visceral Pain in Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Review

1Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai 201203, China
2Key Laboratory of Acupuncture-Moxibustion and Immunological Effects, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 650 South Wanping Road, Xuhui District, Shanghai 200030, China

Received 1 April 2014; Revised 10 June 2014; Accepted 12 June 2014; Published 1 July 2014

Academic Editor: Charlie C. L. Xue

Copyright © 2014 Renjia Huang et al. 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.


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional bowel disorder that causes recurrent abdominal (visceral) pain. Epidemiological data show that the incidence rate of IBS is as high as 25%. Most of the medications may lead to tolerance, addiction and toxic side effects. Moxibustion is an important component of traditional Chinese medicine and has been used to treat IBS-like abdominal pain for several thousand years in China. As a mild treatment, moxibustion has been widely applied in clinical treatment of visceral pain in IBS. In recent years, it has played an irreplaceable role in alternative medicine. Extensive clinical studies have demonstrated that moxibustion for treatment of visceral pain is simple, convenient, and inexpensive, and it is being accepted by an increasing number of patients. There have not been many studies investigating the analgesic mechanisms of moxibustion. Studies exploring the analgesic mechanisms have mainly focused on visceral hypersensitivity, brain-gut axis neuroendocrine system, and immune system. This paper reviews the latest developments in moxibustion use for treatment of visceral pain in IBS from these perspectives. It also evaluates potential problems in relevant studies on the mechanisms of moxibustion therapy to promote the application of moxibustion in the treatment of IBS.