Oriental therapy effective for pain management: study

By Yoon Min-sik
  • Published : Oct 6, 2014 - 20:56
  • Updated : Oct 6, 2014 - 20:56

Traditional oriental treatment of moxibustion can be effective in easing pain caused by chronic diseases like cancer, researchers studying Korean medicine said Monday.

Moxibustion, referring to the use of moxa made from dried mugwort in pain management, was shown to be effective in about 75 percent of metastatic cancer patients, said professor Yoon Seong-woo of the Kyung Hee University Korean Medical Center in Seoul.

Chronic pain from the fatal disease is considered one of the main hindrances of cancer patients, said Yoon‘s team. The use of opioid analgesics can ease the pain, but can have side effects.

The goal of Yoon’s team was to prove the efficacy and safety of moxibustion, so it can be a substitute for narcotic painkillers.

Researchers divided 16 patients into a moxibustion treatment group and a control group. The treatments were applied daily for 10 minutes for seven consecutive days and a brief pain inventory ― a medical questionnaire to assess pain ― was used to study the procedures’ effectiveness.

Results showed that BPI scores were significantly lower for the treatment group than for the control group. Both the pain intensity and pain interference score decreased substantially, leading researchers to conclude that the procedure can be a “safe and potential modality” to ease the pain for metastatic cancer patients.

Yoon explained that moxibustion set off a process called the diffuse noxious inhibitory control which secretes pain inhibitors throughout the body.

“There has been animal testing on the effectiveness of moxibustion, but this marks the first time it has been proven to relieve the pain in cancer patients,” Yoon said. “We expect to reduce the usage of painkillers and enhance the quality of life through scientific verification of the treatment.”

A paper on Yoon’s research, titled “Efficacy and Safety of Moxibustion for Relieving Pain in Patients with Metastatic Cancer,” was recently published in the journal Integrative Cancer Therapies.

By Yoon Min-sik (