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Open Access Research article

Does moxibustion work? An overview of systematic reviews

Myeong Soo Lee13*, Jung Won Kang2 and Edzard Ernst3

Author Affiliations

1 Policy Division, Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine, Daejeon, South Korea

2 Division of Standard Research, Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine, Daejeon, South Korea

3 Complementary Medicine, Peninsula Medical School, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK

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BMC Research Notes 2010, 3:284  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-3-284

Published: 5 November 2010



Several systematic reviews (SRs) have assessed the effectiveness of moxibustion for a range of conditions, often with contradictory conclusions. Our aim was to provide a critical evaluation and summary of these data.


Electronic searches were conducted to locate all SRs of moxibustion for any condition. Data were extracted by two authors according to predefined criteria.


Ten SRs met our inclusion criteria, which related to the following conditions: cancer, ulcerative colitis, stroke rehabilitation, constipation, hypertension, pain conditions and breech presentation. Their conclusions were contradictory in several instances. Relatively clear evidence emerged to suggest that moxibustion is effective for breech presentation.


Based on evidence from the currently available SRs, the effectiveness of moxibustion has been demonstrated for several conditions; however, due to the poor quality of the primary studies, there remains considerable uncertainty.