Acupuncture and Moxibustion certainly are two techniques but they are one paired concept called Zhen Jiu in Chinese. Chinese has an elegance in its short syllables that English does not, I have come to deeply appreciate this since beginning the study of Traditional Oriental Medicine. Because English is so cumbersome we shorten the name to Acupuncture and it should be understood that this is an umbrella term for the accompanying adjunct therapies such as moxibustion with various substances, primarily Artemesia Vulgaris, Mugwort, Sha, Cupping, Tui Na, Blood-letting, EStim, TDP lamps, movement such as Qigong and Taichi as well as innumerable styles.
Despite the term ‘traditional’ the medicine continually adapts to changing technology and incorporates electrical and specific electromagnetic spectrum devices today. The principles remain the same but new means are utilized whenever beneficial.
Only in recent times have Herbalism (the use of medicinal substances orally and topically) and Acupuncture (a technique using solid filament hair thin needles inserted under the skin) /Moxibustion (bringing heat to an area of the body moving Qi and Blood and supplement Yang) been combined and when that happened the practice of Acupuncture changed to be more user friendly to the Herbalists.
Before this the pulse assessment used by Acupuncturists compared pulses at different locations. For instance the carotid pulse at the neck and the superficial radial pulse at the wrist, representing yang and yang within yin. Comparison was the essence of diagnosis. This is a simple to understand but difficult to realize skill. It only comes with patience, persistence and diligent practice.
With the combining of Herbalism and Acupuncture/moxibustion pulse assessment by the majority of practitioners changed to identifying and interpreting the characteristics of the radial pulse at the wrist only. This is a complex but easy to realize skill. There are 28 recognized pulse characteristics that are used to determine the condition of the patient. That is how TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) practitioners are taught.
In Korean Nei Jing style acupuncture comparison remains at the heart of diagnosis. The Huang Di Nei Jing is the foundational text of Chinese Medicine. It says we should first balance yin and yang, when yin and yang are balanced there can be no disease. Balance is a dynamic state that is always changing. There are at least twelve pulse at the wrists and three at the neck. Different locations and different levels are compared for intensity or amplitude and size or volume. The greater is stronger and the lesser is weaker, the weaker system is then tonified and the stronger may be sedated.
When the energies of the body are no longer having to concentrate their effort on preserving balance despite disharmony they resume their focus of repair and routine maintenance thus healing and preventing disease. In other words, our resources are then freed up to create and preserve well being.
Licensed Acupuncturist, RN, Buddhist monk
"The pursuit of health is invariably a spiritual quest."