The Origin of Moxibustion Treatment
The Origin of Moxibustion Treatment

During the 8th century C.E. the principal oriental medical book “Root Tantra” of “Four Medical Tantras” advocated to “heal khii (wind) using smear (to apply a medical ointment etc), massage and Mongolian (Khor) moxibustion in its chapter named “Treatment methods”. However, although the above mentioned phrase is considered to be the most accurate record, there is some information about moxibustion methods used by Mongolians in Tibetan texts. We therefore intended to establish the credibility of the records by studying different sources. According to “Four Medical Tantras”, the oldest information about Mongolian moxibustion is recorded in the Chinese medical text “Huang Di Nei Jin20”, compiled in the period of Han Dynasty, after almost 2000 years. The ‘Huang Di Nei Jin’ consists of two sections: “Su wen’ meaning “Questions on natural basis and living substances,” and “Zhen Jing,” meaning “classics of needle treatment”. “Su wen”, though, represents the whole “Huang Di Nei Jin” in the historical field. The following phrase was written in the chapter entitled “treatment methods”.

“Their build is too stout and huge and their internal organs are hurt by the cold. In this situation the most convenient treatment is moxibustion, therefore moxibustion is said to have originated in the North”. During 198 B.C.E. Han Dynasty accepted Hunnu creating a contract of the two countries’ borders. According to the contract, territory to the north of the Great wall belonged to Shanyu, while territory to the south of the Great wall belonged to Han Dynasty. The Hunnu’s territory during this time period reached Lake Baikal to the north, the Great Wall to the south, II Tarvagatai to the west, and Korea to the east. Early Mongolians, who roamed over such a wide land with a variety of climates, surviving on a diet of only meat and dairy products, were more likely to suffer from cold related diseases. The origin of moxibustion treatment was a therapy for cold related diseases, as was recorded vividly in “Huang Di Nei Jin”. Other evidence (History of Mongolia, Volume 1, and Establishment of Hunnu) states that all of the Hunnu would only eat meat and dairy products while using animals’ skins for clothing (2003). Thereby, it is reasonable to assume that the ancestors of the Mongolians first developed moxibustion and put it into medical practice. B. Jigmed (1985, 2000), Sh. Bold, M. Ambaga (1999, 2000), Burenhuar, Delger (1999), and G. Gongorjav (2001) noted this hypothesis in their workshops. Moreover, early ancestors of the Mongolians, the Ukhani, burned artemisia next to patients or applied hot stones to them. Also, they had the patients lie in burning grass (Ts.Shagdarsuren 1991). Later, a Persian historian Rashid-ad-Din demonstrated it again in his work “Complete Collection of Histories”. He wrote that nomads of the Xianbi State could preserve the ancient treatment methods. In fact, they applied hot stones to patients, covered them with water, and let them lie on ploughed ground. The Hunnu State inhabited this territory during the II century B.C.E. Thus, the hot stone moxibustion method was transmitted to Xianbi State (according to the investigation of their names and languages, it was proved the two tribes had the same origin (G.Sukhbaatar, 2000). The moxibustion method was received by the Turkic Khanate, the dominating tribe of the T’eriod. Afterwards, during the Uigur Khanate period (745-840), it spread onward to Tibet.

According to “Four Medical Tantras”, Mongolian moxibustion treatment was called Khorji Meza (Picture 10). Mongolian scholar and great master Lunrig Dandar (1831-1920) first defined Khorji Meza in his medical book. It was described as the following: First, they prepared a ra>:e mixing Caraway (Foeniculum vulgare Mill) with oil. Then, they put the paste on a stone (spar), and placed it on aching areas.

Inner Mongolian researcher Duvan Gombojav came upon a manuscript about moxibustion written in traditional Mongolian script and published it under the name “Ancient Mongolian Moxibustion Book” in 1992 (Picture 11). The unknown author of this book determined 177 moxibustion available points (belchir) of which 22 points are on the head, 25 on the hands, 28 on the front side of the body, 80 on the back and 22 on the legs. Yet the book was only 27 pages. Comparing the writing style and terms used in “Ancient Mongolian Moxibustion Book” with those of “Erdeniin Tovch” by Sagantsetsen and Duvan Gombojav, the moxibustion textbook was understood to have been written nearly 300 years ago. In addition, the writer noted that Mongolian moxibustion methods differed from Chinese and Tibetan methods. While studying this text, I came across terms such as khii, shulsun (tsus) and shilusun (mucus), demonstrating that the ancient Indian medical theory of Ayurveda “vata, kapha, pitta” had gained popularity among Mongolians and became a main theoretical, practical and medical guide. Prior to the school based on the “Four Medical Tantras”, the theories of rlung, mkhris-pa and bad- kan blossomed in Mongolia. After the 17th century, terms like rlung, mkhris-pa and bad-kan. In English these are generally translated as wind, bile, and phlegm began to be used when the school of the “Four Medical Tantras” entered Mongolian medical practice.

The terms khii, shulsun and shilusen are sometimes noted as khii, shar and shilusen in “Ancient Mongolian Moxibustion Book”. In the 1330s, a translator guush Sharavsenge rendered the terms rlung, mkhris- pa and bad-kan as khii, shar and shilusen when he translated the sutra ‘Altangerel” from both Tibetan and Uigur into Mongolian. These terms were discussed in the chapter entitled “hamag uvchniig saitar amirluulsa nert,” and introduced Ayurvedic medicine. Thereby, the key terms of Ayurvedic medicine “vata, kapha and pitta” were translated as “khii, shar and shulusen” into Mongolian during the 14th century C.E.

Therefore, we conclude that moxibustion therapy, which was practiced broadly during the Hunnu period, was passed down from generation to generation. It was introduced to China during the Chinese Warring States (480-221 B.C.E.), to Tibet during the Uigur period (745- 840 C.E.) and finally became an independent curing method during the Yuan dynasty, combining some key elements of Ayurveda.