Constipation gets relief from moxibustion

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May 13, 2007  
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moxibustion, acupuncture, constipationCM NEWS – A special form of acupoint treatment can help push your bowel without needing you to take any medication, a recent study finds.

To test the therapeutic effect, safety of acupoint application for treatment of constipation, scientists of the First Hospital of Guangzhou University of TCM in China used a special form of acupoint treatment called herbs-partitioned moxibustion (???).

42 cases were randomly divided into a treatment group of 22 cases and a control group of 20 cases.

In herbs-partitioned moxibustion, a small “cake” made up of herbs was placed on the specific acupoints and was lit up.

In this study, the special herbal cake was made with Sanleng (??, Rhizoma Spargani), Ezhu (??, Rhizoma Zedoariae), Dahuang (??, Radix et Rhizoma Rhei) and Bingpian (??, Borneolum). The cake was then applied at acupoints Tianshu (???, ST 25), Qihai (???, CV 6), Guanyuan (??? CV 4).

The control group were treated with oral administration of Congrong Tongbian Oral Liquid (???????), a laxative that can be bought over the counter.

Acupoint Tianshu has been clinically proven to be effective in dealing with constipation for centuries. In combination with other adjuvant points as indicated by symptom differentiation, are very effective in the treatment of diseases of the digestive system.

Acupoint Qihai has been involved in treating back pain, overly frequent urination at night, and some gynecological conditions.

Acupoint Guangyuan is said to be effective in treating urological diseases, erectile dysfunction, menstrual cramps etc. It’s also involved in treating insomnia and panic disorder.

What is moxibustion? Practitioners use moxa, or mugwort herb, to warm regions and acupuncture points with the intention of stimulating circulation through the points and inducing a smoother flow of blood and qi.

moxibustion, acupuncture, traditional chinese medicineMedical historians believe that moxibustion pre-dated acupuncture, and needling came to supplement moxa after the 2nd century BC. Different schools of acupuncture use moxa in varying degrees. For example a 5-element acupuncturist will use moxa directly on the skin, whilst a TCM-style practitioner will use rolls of moxa and hold them over the point treated. It can also be burnt atop a fine slice of ginger root to prevent scarring.

There are two types of moxibustion: direct and indirect. In direct moxibustion, a small, cone-shaped amount of moxa is placed on top of an acupuncture point and burned. This type of moxibustion is further categorized into two types: scarring and non-scarring. With scarring moxibustion, the moxa is placed on a point, ignited, and allowed to remain onto the point until it burns out completely. This may lead to localized scarring, blisters and scarring after healing.

With non-scarring moxibustion, the moxa is placed on the point and lit, but is extinguished or removed before it burns the skin. The patient will experience a pleasant heating sensation that penetrates deep into the skin, but should not experience any pain, blistering or scarring unless the moxa is left in place for too long.

Indirect moxibustion is currently the more popular form of care because there is a much lower risk of pain or burning. In indirect moxibustion, a practitioner lights one end of a moxa stick, roughly the shape and size of a cigar, and holds it close to the area being treated for several minutes until the area turns red. Another form of indirect moxibustion uses both acupuncture needles and moxa. A needle is inserted into an acupoint and retained. The tip of the needle is then wrapped in moxa and ignited, generating heat to the point and the surrounding area. After the desired effect is achieved, the moxa is extinguished and the needle(s) removed.

In the present study, a herbal cake was applied on the acupoints instead of moxa. This practice is also called herbs-partitioned moxibustion (???).

The results were very positive for the moxibustion group. The total effective rate was 81.8% in the treatment group and 50.0% in the control group, the treatment group being better than the control group (P < 0.05).

Patients in the treatment group made their first bowel movement 5.1 hours +/- 2.8 hours after treatment, whereas the first defecation time for the control group was 10.1 hours +/- 7.3 hours after treatment.

The scientists then conclude that TCM acupoint application therapy has a definite therapeutic effect on constipation.

[Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2007 Mar;27(3):189-90.]