The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below. Acne, acute lymphangitis, arthralgia (joint pain), asthma, bronchitis, chronic pain syndromes, common cold, diarrhea, dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation), dysentery (severe diarrhea), epilepsy, facial paralysis, frozen shoulder, gastritis, gastroptosis, infertility, insomnia, leukorrhea (vaginal discharge), lung diseases, osteoarthritis of the knee, parietal and occipital headaches; soft-tissue injury (adjacent to), toothache, trigeminal neuralgia (nerve pain), urticaria (hives), uterine cramps.
Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.
Frequency of adverse events in acupuncture practice is rare (see Natural Standard monograph on Acupuncture), and even more rare in its adjunctive techniques of cupping and moxibustion.
Cupping commonly leaves a temporary bruising of the skin that disappears on its own.
It has been suggested that serious cases of adverse events caused by moxibustion are actually cases of negligence; e.g., not removing the moxa from the skin at the appropriate time, or accidentally dropping ash from the burning moxa cigar onto the skin.
For both cupping and moxibustion, precautions and contraindications are offered based on tradition, clinical experience and theory rather than controlled research, as follows:
Avoid the abdomen/sacral area during pregnancy.
Avoid contraindicated acupuncture points.
Avoid during high fever, convulsions or cramps, or over allergic skin conditions or ulcerated sores.
Avoid areas with an inflamed organ, inflamed areas in general (can cup distally and/or around it).
Avoid in patients with cardiac disease and/or aneurysms.
Avoid in patients with extreme fatigue and/or anemia.
Avoid in patients who have just finished exercising or taking a hot bath or shower.
Avoid sliding cups over the spine, moles or other skin abnormalities.
Caution with patients with neuropathy.
Avoid face, head, nipples and genitals.
Avoid with skin adhesions in the area.
Avoid points where needling is contraindicated for the individual patient.
Caution with direct moxa over large blood vessels or on elderly people with large vessels.
Avoid on patients with any kind of "heat syndrome" according to acupuncture theory
Avoid in patients with strong heat signs - high fever, etc.
Avoid on or near inflamed and/or red areas of the body.
Avoid in patients with diabetic neuropathy or in any situation where the patient may not respond to the sensations of heat.
Advise patient not to bathe or shower for up to 24 hours after a moxibustion treatment.
Pregnancy & Lactation: The abdominal area and the lower back during pregnancy are traditionally avoided in both cupping and moxibustion practice out of concern for adversely impacting the uterus or fetus, although there are no published reports of related adverse effects. Moxibustion is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women.