Anti-fatigue effects of acupuncture versus moxibustion at theZusanliacupoint in exercise-induced fatigue rats*,*,☆

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Acupuncture and moxibustion therapy at the Zusanli (ST36) acupoint can effectively alleviate exercise induced fatigue.


To study the anti-fatigue effects of moxibustion, acupuncture with filiform needle at ST36 on exercise induced fatigue rats by observing the antioxidant enzyme activity and microcirculation in skeletal muscles; furthermore, to compare the difference effect of two methods.


Randomized control animal trials were performed in the Laboratory of Photonic Chinese Medicine, South China Normal University between June 2008 and July 2008.


Totally 24 male Sprague Dawley (SD) rats of SPF grade, with body weight of 220-260 g.


Rats were randomly divided into normal, model, moxibustion, and acupuncture groups, with 6 animals in each group. The exercise induced fatigue was established by swimming without load. Meanwhile, the rats in moxibustion group and acupuncture group were treated with moxibustion and filiform needle acupuncture at ST36, respectively, once a day for 10 days. After the last exhaustive swimming, the index was determined.


The microcirculation in skeletal muscle and the activity of superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) in skeletal muscle mitochondria.


The exercise performance of moxibustion group was increased significantly than that of model group at day 9 after operation (P < 0.05), which was increased significantly in the acupuncture and moxibustion groups at days 11 (P < 0.05). There was no difference between acupuncture and moxibustion groups (P > 0.05). Blood perfusion in tibialis anterior muscle of the moxibustion group was greater than model group (P < 0.05); blood perfusion in rectus abdominis of acupuncture group was higher than model group (P < 0.05). The SOD and GSH-Px activities in bilateral tibialis anterior muscle mitochondria of moxibustion group were much higher than those in model group (P < 0.05). The microcirculation in bilateral tibialis of acupuncture group was lower than those in moxibustion group (P < 0.05).


Moxibustion at ST36 can effectively relieve exercised-induced muscle fatigue by improving antioxidant enzyme activity in skeletal muscle mitochondria, increasing microcirculation in skeletal muscle, the effect of which is superior to acupuncture.

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