Search JIM Advanced Search

Journal of Integrative Medicine ›› 2014, Vol. 12 ›› Issue (3): 131-134.doi: 10.1016/S2095-4964(14)60024-8

• Review •     Next Articles

Can moxibustion, an ancient treatment modality, be evaluated in a double-blind randomized controlled trial? — A narrative review

Bai-xiao Zhaoa, Hai-Yong Chenb, Xue-yong Shenc, Lixing Laoa,b,d   

  1. School of Acupuncture, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, Beijing 100029, China
    School of Chinese Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
    College of Acupuncture-Moxibustion and Tuina, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai 201203, China
    Center for Integrative Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland 21201, USA
  • Received:2014-04-04 Accepted:2014-04-15 Online:2014-05-10 Published:2014-05-15

For thousands of years, moxibustion has been used for various diseases in China and other Asian countries. Despite the recent surge in Chinese herbal studies, few randomized controlled trials have been conducted on this modality, possibly due to the lacking of suitable double blinding methodology. This is a review of extant sham moxa devices and an introduction to a recently developed device that needs further validation.

Key words: Moxibustion, Direct moxibustion, Indirect moxibustion, Randomized controlled trial, Reviews

Figure 1

Real and sham moxa devices by Zhao et al[13]The sham device has a thermal-insulating plate."


Figure 2

Zhao’s modified moxa device and proposed sham moxa device(A) The new moxa device developed by Professor Zhao. (B) The proposed sham moxa device with smaller air-pores to lower therapeutic temperature."

[1] Wu JN. Ling shu or the spiritual pivot[M]. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1993: 234-237
[2] Lao L . Acupuncture techniques and devices[J]. J Altern Complement Med, 1996,2(1):23-25
doi: 10.1089/acm.1996.2.23
[3] Cheng CW, Fu SF, Zhou QH, Wu TX, Shang HC, Tang XD, Liu ZS, Liu J, Lin ZX, Lao L, Lü AP, Zhang BL, Liu BY, Bian ZX . Extending the CONSORT Statement to moxibustion[J]. J Integr Med, 2013,11(1):54-63
doi: 10.3736/jintegrmed2013009
[4] Cheng X. Chinese acupuncture and moxibustion.3rd ed[M]. Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 2010: 361-370
[5] Cardini F, Weixin H . Moxibustion for correction of breech presentation: a randomized controlled trial[J]. JAMA, 1998,280(18):1580-1584
doi: 10.1001/jama.280.18.1580
[6] Guittier MJ, Pichon M, Dong H, Irion O, Boulvain M . Moxibustion for breech version: a randomized controlled trial[J]. Obstet Gynecol, 2009,114(5):1034-1440
doi: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e3181bc707a
[7] Do CK, Smith CA, Dahlen H, Bisits A, Schmied V . Moxibustion for cephalic version: a feasibility randomised controlled trial[J]. BMC Complement Altern Med, 2011,11:81
doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-11-81
[8] Vas J, Aranda-Regules JM, Modesto M, Ramos-Monserrat M, Barón M, Aguilar I, Benítez-Parejo N, Ramírez-Carmona C, Rivas-Ruiz F . Using moxibustion in primary healthcare to correct non-vertex presentation: a multicentre randomised controlled trial[J]. Acupunct Med, 2013,31(1):31-38
doi: 10.1136/acupmed-2012-010261
[9] Park JE, Lee MS, Jung S, Kim A, Kang K, Choi J, Park J, Choi SM . Moxibustion for treating menopausal hot flashes: a randomized clinical trial[J]. Menopause, 2009,16(4):660-665
doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e318198cdf7
[10] Park JE, Sul JU, Kang K, Shin BC, Hong KE, Choi SM . The effectiveness of moxibustion for the treatment of functional constipation: a randomized, sham-controlled, patient blinded, pilot clinical trial[J]. BMC Complement Altern Med, 2011,11:124
doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-11-124
[11] Kim HG, Yoo SR, Park HJ, Son CG . Indirect moxibustion(CV4 and CV8) ameliorates chronic fatigue: a randomized, double-blind, controlled study[J]. J Altern Complement Med, 2013,19(2):134-140
doi: 10.1089/acm.2011.0503
[12] Chen M, Chen R, Xiong J, Chi Z, Sun J, Su T, Zhou M, Yi F, Zhang B . Evaluation of different moxibustion doses for lumbar disc herniation: multicentre randomised controlled trial of heat-sensitive moxibustion therapy[J]. Acupunct Med, 2012,30(4):266-272
doi: 10.1136/acupmed-2012-010142
[13] Zhao B, Wang X, Lin Z, Liu R, Lao L . A novel sham moxibustion device: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial[J]. Complement Ther Med, 2006,14(1):53-60
doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2005.06.003
[14] Ren XM, Cao JJ, Shen XY, Wang LZ, Zhao L, Wu F, Zhang HM . Preliminary clinical randomized controlled trial on knee osteoarthritis treated with moxibustion[J]. World J Acupunct Moxib, 2012,22(2):28-33
doi: 10.1016/S1003-5257(12)60024-5
[15] Kim SY, Yi SH, Cho JH, Yin CS, Lee H, Park HJ. Heat stimulation on the skin for medical treatment: can it be controlled? JTHER].Kim SY, Yi SH, Cho JH, Yin CS, Lee H, Park HJ. Heat stimulation on the skin for medical treatment: can it be controlled?[J] Altern Complement Med. 2011; 17(6):497-504.
doi: 10.1089/acm.2010.0072
[16] Wang T, Zhang Q, Xue X, Yeung A . A systematic review of acupuncture and moxibustion treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome in China[J]. Am J Chin Med, 2008,36(1):1-24
doi: 10.1142/S0192415X08005540
[17] Guo J . Chronic fatigue syndrome treated by acupuncture and moxibustion in combination with psychological approaches in 310 cases[J]. J Tradit Chin Med, 2007,27(2):92-95
[1] Sherman Gu, Arthur Yin Fan. Controversial conclusions from two randomized controlled trials for acupuncture's effects on polycystic ovary syndrome or in vitro fertilization support. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2020, 18(2): 89-91.
[2] Gerli E.G. Herr, Fábio Goulart da Silva, Francisco José Cidral-Filho, Fabricia Petronilho, Lucinéia Gainski Danielski, Mariana Pereira de Souza Goldim, Afonso Shiguemi Inoue Salgado, Franciane Bobinski, Daniel Fernandes Martins, Eliane R. Winkelmann. Effects of the use of bioceramic wraps in patients with lower limb venous ulcers: A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2020, 18(1): 27-.
[3] Xin-yu Yue, Zhuo-qi Feng, Xi-yi Yu, Jia-min Hu, Xiao-Jing He, Shi Shu. Fire-needle acupuncture for upper limb spastic paralysis after stroke: Study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2019, 17(3): 167-172.
[4] Ya-ru Huangfu, Wei Peng, Bao-jun Guo, Zhi-fu Shen, Li Li, Shi-wei, Liu, Hui Zheng, You-ping Hu. Effects of acupuncture in treating insomnia due to spleen-stomach disharmony syndrome and its influence on intestinal microbiome: Study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2019, 17(3): 161-167.
[5] Pádraic J.Dunne, Julie Lynch, Lucia Prihodova, Caoimhe O'Leary, Atiyeh Ghoreyshi, Sharee A. Basdeo, Donal J.Cox, Rachel Breen, Ali Sheikhi, Áine Carroll, Cathal Walsh, Geraldine McMahon, Barry White. Burnout in the emergency department: Randomized controlled trial of an attention-based training program. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2019, 17(3): 173-180.
[6] J.M. Oliver-Baxter, H.S. Whitford, D.A. Turnbull, M.J. Bond. Effects of vitamin supplementation on inflammatory markers and psychological wellbeing among distressed women: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2018, 16(5): 322-328.
[7] Parunkul Tungsukruthai, Preecha Nootim, Wiwan Worakunphanich, Nareerat Tabtong. Efficacy and safety of herbal steam bath in allergic rhinitis: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2018, 16(1): 39-44.
[8] Zahra Hajmohammadi, Mojtaba Heydari, Majid Nimrouzi, Pouya Faridi, Mohammad Javad Zibaeenezhad, Gholamhossein Ranjbar Omrani, Mesbah Shams . Rhus coriaria L. increases serum apolipoprotein-A1 and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels: A double-blind placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2018, 16(1): 45-50.
[9] Laura Belland, Laura Rivera-Reyes, Ula Hwang. Using music to reduce anxiety among older adults in the emergency department: A randomized pilot study. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2017, 15(6): 450-455.
[10] Hilal Yuksel, Yasemin Cayir, Zahide Kosan, Kenan Tastan. Effectiveness of breathing exercises during the second stage of labor on labor pain and duration: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2017, 15(6): 456-461.
[11] Yoshiharu Motoo, Takashi Hakamatsuka, Nobuo Kawahara, Ichiro Arai, Kiichiro Tsutani. Standards of Reporting Kampo Products (STORK) in research articles. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2017, 15(3): 182-185.
[12] Maria T.Chao, AlexandraChang, SanjayReddy, James D.Harrison, JosephAcquah, MiriaToveg, TrilceSantana, Frederick M.Hecht. Adjunctive acupuncture for pain and symptom management in the inpatient setting: Protocol for a pilot hybrid effectiveness-implementation study. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2016, 14(3): 228-238.
[13] Min Yee Lim, Jian Huang, Bai-xiao Zhao, Hui-qin Zou, Yong-hong Yan. Influence of storage duration and processing on chromatic attributes and flavonoid content of moxa floss. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2016, 14(1): 69-76.
[14] Nouran A. Aleyeidi, Khaled S. Aseri, Shadia M. Matbouli, Albaraa A. Sulaiamani, Sumayyah A. Kobeisy. Effects of wet-cupping on blood pressure in hypertensive patients: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2015, 13(6): 391-399.
[15] Maria Sousa Cláudia, Coimbra Daniela, Machado Jorge, J. Greten Henry. Effects of self-administered exercises based on Tuina techniques on musculoskeletal disorders of professional orchestra musicians: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2015, 13(5): 314-318.
Full text



[1] Hao Li, Ming-jiang Yao, Wen-ming Zhao, Jie Guan, Lin-lin Cai, Ling Cui. A randomized, controlled, double-blind trial of Huannao Yicong capsule in senile patients with mild cognitive impairment. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 25-31
[2] Yi-ting He, Qing-lin Zha, Jian-ping Yu, Yong Tan, Cheng Lu, Ai-ping Lv. Principal factor analysis of symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and their correlations with efficacy of traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 32-36
[3] Jun Cai, Hua Wang, Sheng Zhou, Bin Wu, Hua-rong Song, Zheng-rong Xuan. Effect of Sijunzi Decoction and enteral nutrition on T-cell subsets and nutritional status in patients with gastric cancer after operation: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 37-40
[4] Dong Yang, Yong-ping Du, Qing Shen, Wei Chen, Yan Yu, Guang-lei Chen. Expression of alpha-smooth muscle actin in renal tubulointerstitium in patients with kidney collateral stasis. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 41-44
[5] Xi Lin, Jian-ping Liu. Tai chi for treating rheumatoid arthritis. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 82
[6] Guo-hong Yuan, Xiao-jing Pang, He-chao Ma. Synergic effects of Danggui Buxue Decoction in reducing toxicity of cytoxan in tumor-bearing mice. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 83-88
[7] Li Zhou, Hong-xing Zhang, Ling-guang Liu, Wen-jun Wan. Effect of electro-acupuncture at Fenglong (GV 16) on nitric oxide and endothelin in rats with hyperlipidemia. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 89-92
[8] Ning-qun Wang, Liang-duo Jiang, Zong-xing Li. Research progress in asthma-related quality of life. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 93-97
[9] Bo Wang , Wei Yan , Li-hui Hou, Xiao-ke Wu. Disorder of Tiangui (kidney essence) and reproductive dysfunction in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2010, 8(11): 1018-1022
[10] Bing Hu , Hong-mei An , Ke-ping Shen , Qin Du. Senescence-inducing effects of Chinese herbal medicine Tenglong Buzhong Decoction on human colon carcinoma LS-174-T cells and the mechanism. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2010, 8(11): 1048-1052