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Antioxidant effect of indirect moxibustion on healthy subjects: a pilot study




Moxibustion has long been thought to promote vital energy or immunity through clinical experience. This study aimed to investigate the clinical effects of indirect moxibustion on antioxidant and immunomodulation in a normal population.


Twenty-five healthy volunteers with no objective or subjective disorders were recruited. The participants were treated with indirect moxibustion on acupoints Guanyuan (CV 4) and Shenque (CV 8) three times per week for 4 weeks. The serum levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and malondialdehyde (MDA), the total antioxidant capacity (TAC), the activities of catalase and superoxide dismutase (SOD), and the total glutathione content were determined before and after the 12th moxibustion. Lymphocyte subpopulations and 42 cytokines in the peripheral blood were analyzed using flow cytometry and antibody array, respectively.


Compared with the initial time point, the serum levels of ROS and MDA were significantly lowered by moxibustion, while TAC was increased (P < 0.01 for all). A significant increase was observed in catalase activity (P < 0.05), but not in SOD or total glutathione. There were no significant changes in lymphocyte subpopulations or cytokines in the peripheral blood. Fifteen of 25 participants reported at least one symptom in which they felt subjective improvement after moxibustion.


Indirect moxibustion on acupoints CV 4 and CV 8 improved the antioxidant defense system, which may be a mechanism explaining the clinical effects of moxibustion.

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