Acupuncture-moxibustion therapy (zhēn jiǔ liáo fǎ 针灸疗法) which mainly consists of both acupuncture (zhēn jiǔ 针灸) and moxibustion (ài jiǔ 艾灸) is an unique approach to medical care in China and is also an indispensable component of Chinese medicine (zhōng yī 中医). The acupuncture treatment is the insertion of different fine needles on the body’s surface according to a certain point (xué wèi 穴位), to stimulate certain parts of the body and use various methods to evoke the channels (jīng luò 经络) as well as the vital energy (qì 气) of human body, in order to adjust physiological functioning of the body so to cure diseases. Moxibustion is the burning of moxa (ài 艾) on or near a person’s skin as a counterirritant. For a long time, acupuncture and moxibustion treatment are often combined together in clinical practice application, therefore we collectively referred to them as Acupuncture-moxibustion therapy.
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese method of treating disease or relieving pain by inserting one or more metal needles (zhēn 针) at a certain point or certain points of the human body. The earliest written record that is available about acupuncture is Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine (or Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon huáng dì nèi jīng 黄帝内经), which suggests acupuncture originated in China and would explain why it is most commonly associated with traditional Chinese medicine.
According to ancient Chinese medical records and archaeological findings, the primitive Chinese people used bianshi (stone pierces biān shí 砭石), the earliest acupuncture instrument, to treat diseases. Afterward, with the further development of the society, bone needles and bamboo needles replaced stone ones. Then the development and improvement of metal casting techniques brought about metal medical needles, such as bronze, iron, gold and silver ones. Ancient Chinese doctors used nine kinds of needles: the arrowhead needle (chán zhēn 镵针) for superficial pricking, the round needle (yuán zhēn 员针) for massaging, the blunt needle (dī zhēn 鍉针) for knocking or pressing, the three edged needle (sān léng zhēn 三棱针) for puncturing a vein, the sword-like needle (pí zhēn 铍针) for draining abscesses, the sharp round needle (yuán lì zhēn 员利针) for rapid pricking, the filiform needle (háo zhēn 毫针), the long needle (cháng zhēn 长针) for thick muscles and the large needle (dà zhēn 大针) for puncturing painful joints. At present, stainless needles are widely used.
An acupuncturist (针灸医生zhēn jiǔ yī shēng) usually pays due attention to the basic techniques including the way the needle is inserted rapidly or slowly, the depth of insertion, the length of time the needle should be left in the body, and the number of needles required to the treatment.
According to Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine, “the coldness hidden in the body would bring illness which could be expelled through moxibustion”. Moxibustion, another effective therapy, was discovered by ancient people when they sat down around a fire. They found that the heat not only kept them warm but also relieved physical pains. Then they started to use moxa leaves for the same purpose. Today, in the treatment moxa leaves are ignited over certain points on the skin’s surface.
Dredging the meridian (jīng luò 经络); Regulating Yin (yīn 阴) and Yang (yáng 阳); Strengthening the body resistance and eliminating pathogenic factors.
Acupuncture and moxibustion have many advantages. First, they are applicable in various kinds of diseases and suit therapeutic needs in internal medicine (nèi kē 内科), surgery (wài kē 外科), gynecology (fù kē 妇科), as well as in preventive medicine (yù fáng yī xué 预防医学). Second, they produce prompt and appreciable cures: increase resistance to disease by providing simulation at certain points, and stop pain. Third, they are easily practiced and mastered. Furthermore, they produce on or slight side effects, are generally safe, and can be applied together with other therapies.
For more than 2000 years, Acupuncture-moxibustion therapy has been popular in China and has been rapidly spread and wide accepted in many areas all over the world. Acupuncture and moxibustion play an important role not only in advancing Chinese medical science, but also in promoting medical and health science of the whole world.
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