Though acupuncture and moxibustion are frequently used together to treat ailment ranging from internal problems to gynecological and pediatric diseases, acupuncture and moxibusion are two distinct therapeutic approaches to curing a variety of ailments. Acupuncture treats diseases by puncturing points of the body with different types of needles. Moxibusion applies heat produces by ignited moxawood over certain points in the body. Although different equipment and materials are used, the therapeutic and preventive results are similar. Both promote the circulation of qi and the blood in the channels by stimulating the key points and channels 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 there points and the effects of stimulating them have led to the theory of channels and collaterals. Early acupuncturists believed that needle manipulation at a point would affect other parts of the body along a defined route. Points at different locations would also produce similar results. Thus, acupuncturists studied the relationship between there points and developed 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. To gather 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 earlist success with acupuncture and moxibustion is recorded in the Shiji (Historical Records) by Shima Qian, a historian of the Han Dynasty. An account is 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.