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Moxibustion and stress

Effects of moxibustion in 50 adults with prolonged stress caused by deficiency in spleen Qi.

Treatment in mental disorders

origin of stress

Up to the eighteenth century human beings had a solar and seasonal rhythm, which implied a time to plough, a time to sow and a time to harvest. Later, between the second half of the eighteenth century and the beginnings of the twentieth, a deep transformation took place. It was the Industrial revolution, which brought about the loss of natural cycles and gave birth to a particular pattern of diseases produced by a close relationship between society and individuals´ different stages of development. From my viewpoint, this is beginning of what was later known as “stress” and it is equivalent to aggression: a condition generated by a human being when suddenly confronted with a harmful factor of any kind. Nowadays, stress is a widely spread pathology in the Western world, especially in big cities. Economic difficulties, unemployment, competitiveness, speedy rhythm of life in big cities, and a gradual departure from the essence of nature: all these factors bring about situations where people are compelled to change workplaces and even move out from their city or country; where people are overworked (devoting much time to work and a little time to sleeping and resting). They also have unhealthy diets, economic and affective losses, chronic diseases, and make a big effort to adapt themselves to the environment, which are clear signals of stress.

Stress and T.C.M.

From the traditional Chinese medicine´s point of view, those situations which cause excessive worry alter the qi mechanisms, making its normal ascent and descent more difficult, and complicating the circulation of qi and xue.

Whoever feels deeply worried and stressed during a long time shows alterations in the spleen qi. In traditional Chinese medicine we can observe the stress pathology and tackle this problem according to a differentiation of symptoms and syndromes.

The Yellow emperor once said: “since early times it has been considered that human beings´ and Nature’s vital activities are mutually and continually interrelated”.
Ying y yang is the foundation of both physical and spiritual health. If the relative balance is lost, this loss can cause excessive abundance or decline and sickness follows. If the anti pathogen factors beat the pathogen ones, the organism will not be damaged by them and sickness will not appear. When the pathogen factors beat the antipathogen ones, it can break the balance between 
ying and yang, and this produces functional disorder of organs and viscera, disorder in qi circulation (energy) and xue (blood) where all mental changes are born. 
In chapter 17 of the Neijing, about “Explanation of the theory of the five organs” it is said: “the spleen contains the yi, concerning thoughts, ideas, opinions and the capacity to meditate, and one of the elements that structure intelligence”.
In traditional Chinese medicine it is known that the stomach receives the food, and the spleen carries and transforms it.

- Both the stomach and the spleen administer the digestion of food and drinks. 
- They assimilate, transport and distribute the essence, and for this reason they are the source of qi and blood.
- If the spleen loses its normal function the qi and blood also lose their original function and the mind is illnourished. 
- If there is an accumulation of water and dampness they produce a phlegm which goes up, attacking the death and mind which consequently can produce mental disorders.
- The spleen treasures “the idea”.

On the other, if the liver loses its capacity to administer and do the drainage work, the qi cannot circulate fluently.
In the chapter “Theory of Pain” from Suwen, it is said: “…meditation contributes to qi accumulation”. Wang Tao (670-775), who was a doctor from the Tang dynasty (618-907), indicated that “…worries cause people to forget things and misunderstand what others are saying, and also to leave objects everywhere being unable to find them afterwards”. In this way he illustrated the disorders in the spleen qi.
This deficiency in the spleen qi weakens the function of transformation and transportation done by this organ, and since it is “the minister distributor of food”, produces as well deficiency in the middle Jiao qi, with a consequent fatigue in limbs and a state of laziness in the ability to speak. Also, the nourishment of the muscles is lost, causing weakness in the upper ends and lower limbs. These depending the nourishing energy (ying qi) coming from water and food which are provided by the stomach, but necessarily depend on the spleen to be distributed, the gradually diminishes and causes obstructions of the vessels, in this way the bones and tendons cannot be nourished and the problem gets worse, because the four limbs lose strength and 
movement, an the patient feels extremely weak. We also find spontaneous sweating, which increases when there is effort, together with abdominal distension, desire to sleep and fatigue after meals, all symptoms which allow us to recognize here a deficiency in the spleen qi as a consequence of prolonged stress.
Now we will move forward to expose the results of observation of 50 patients with deficiency of the spleen qi caused by stress and its treatment with moxibustión prolonged.


Observation and treatment

We observed 50 patients who went to medical consultation showing excessive worries and alteration in the spleen balance. They showed these symptoms:

- permanent fatigue
- need to sleep
- lack of energy
- fatigue in the limbs
- spontaneous sweating which gets worse with effort
- haemorrhoid after diarrhoea
- abdominal strain
- pale tongue – thin coating
- thin and weak pulse.


Population: we observed 50 adult patients who were healthy according to routine check ups without showing any clinic or biochemical alteration. All of them showed general fatigue provoked by prolonged psychological tension as the principal reason for consultation.


Eight moxibustión sessions constituted a course of treatment using moxa in rolls and ending the sessions with acupoint massage of the points extra jiaji (ex - b2).

The points treated were:
- PISHU – BL 20
- QIHAI – CV 6
- BAIHUI – GV 20

The points BL21 (weishu) and CV12 (ZHONGWANG) conform the combination of the points SHU (dorsal) and MU (frontal) which is able to reinforce the stomach and harmonize the middle Jiao.
The point BL15 (XINSHU) and HT7 (SHENMEN) feed the heart and regularize the qi; also sustain the mind. This is indicated in case of excessive necessity to sleep.
The BL 20 (PISHU) strengthens the spleen and nourishes the qi. The ST36 (ZUSANLI) is an important point for the strengthening of the acquired and health protection.
The CV4 (GUANYUAN) is the meeting point of CV4 and the three ying meridians of the foot, and it is point MU (frontal) of the small intestine. This point’s function is to fortify, benefit and strengthen, feeding the original energy.
This is very important for the protection of health. The point CV6 (QIHAI) is in charge of fortifying the kidneys and feeds the original energy, benefits the qi and regulates the circulation of blood and improves the qi functions of the organism. It is a very important point to strengthen, fortify and protect our health. The point GV20 (BAIHUI) cleans up the mind, reanimates and it is the meeting point of all the yang meridians and for this reason it was used to stimulate the yang meridians in the whole body. 

The moxibustión technique took 5 minutes in each point, and immediately after finishing the doctor starts hand manipulation of acupoints EX B2 (JIAJI) to restablish the circulation of energy, at the same time helping to mobilize the qi of the ZHANG FU which is transported and dispersed in these points.
This method not only strengthens the spleen qi but also benefits the ying yang, ZHANG FU balance and improves the patients´ general condition.


We treated and followed the evolution of 50 patients between 1997 and 1999. The treatment was performed twice a week.

- There were 28 women and 22 men.
- Aged between 25 and 45 years old.
- The treatment lasted between 1 and 3 months.

42 patients (84%) recovered 80% of their balance at the end of the first phase.
6 patients (12%) recovered 50% of their balance at the end of the second phase.
2 patients (4%) recovered 20% of their balance at the end of the third phase.

Friction in point ST 36 (ZUSANLI) two hundred times a day and breathing exercises were recommended to all patients.


After the treatment performed with moxibustión in 50 patients with prolonged stress produced by spleen qi deficiency, 80% of the total number of cases did not repeat the initial symptoms in the following year, while the remaining 20% --due to negative and unexpected external reasons—showed some of the symptoms 6 months after their last visit, although with less intensity than in their first session. 
When there is excessive worry the energy of transportation and transformation of food becomes stagnant, causing permanent fatigue and lack of energy among other symptoms.
Nowadays we observe a strong tendency towards the development of diseases resulting from disorders in the dynamics of energy, and this is the principal physiopathological alteration that appears produced by emotional alterations.
The liver has a draining function SHU XIE and when this function loses its balance, it affects the process of transformation and distribution of food done by the spleen and the patients lose their capacity to purify their emotions.
The transformation process performed by the spleen can be modified by alterations of the seven emotions.
When the treatment with moxibustión in patients with prolonged stress ends, the spleen recovers the qi normal function, the blood also recovers its original function and the mind nourishes normally. According to the theory of the five elements and the generation cycle, the lungs 
control normally the qi and breathing process, they ventilate and purify the air and channel the water pathways.
The kidneys which lodge the original SHEN the vital essence and the will power, recover their original vitality, the intelligence and the memory. The liver, recovering its original full capacity to administer and drain in a balanced manner, can soften the mental activities. Meanwhile the heart controls and balances the blood circulation and the vessels actively; and, more important, it also controls and balances the mental activities because it treasures the SHEN: administrator of all mental activities.
To recover balance is to recover the unity YIN-YANG, and this is the way to find the deep part of our essence, coming back to the root is to find rest and the empty place where life constantly flows.

Dra. Cecilia Y. Cáceres