Acupuncture and moxibustion are 2 distinct therapeutic approaches for curing a variety of diseases. Acupunture treats diseases by puncturing points of the body with different types of needles while moxibustion applies heat produced by ignited moxawood over certain points of the body.
Though acupuncture and moxibustion are frequently used together to treat ailments ranging from internal problems to gynecological and pediatric diseases, acupuncture and moxibusion are 2 very different approaches. Although different equipment and materials are used in each method, the therapeutic and preventive results are similar. Both promote the circulation of chi (believed by the Chinese to be a vital force within all living things) and the blood in the body’s channels by stimulating the key points and pathways of the body. The results are often quick with little or no side effects.
The locations where needles are inserted or where heat is applied are known as points. By focusing on specific points, different effects or reactions can be produced in corresponding parts of the body. The discovery of the points and the effects of stimulating them have led to the theory of channels and collaterals.
Early acupuncturists believed that needle manipulation at one point would affect other parts of the body along a defined route. Points at different locations would also produce similar results. Thus, acupuncturists well study the relationship between different points and work to develop and prove the theory of channels and collaterals.
The vertically distributed “trunk lines” were described by physicians in ancient times as “channels” while the large and small branches of these “channels” were referred to as “collaterals”. A network can be defined as consisting of 12 channels, 15 collaterals and 8 extraordinary channels. This network spreads throughout the body and links various points of the body.
The points forming the network were discovered one by one during the long history of acupuncture and moxibustion. Unearthed materials and historical records show that impressive results were obtained as early as the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD). The earliest success with acupuncture and moxibustion is recorded in the Shiji (historical records) by Shima Qian, a historian of the Han Dynasty. An account is also given in “Biographies of Bian Que” who brought patients out of comas by using acupuncture.
For thousands of years acupuncture and moxibustion therapies have been popular as methods of preventing and treating diseases. They have served as important components of Chinese medicine.