Objective: This review aimed at systematically evaluating the efficacy and safety of moxibustion for chronic fatigue syndrome.
Methods: Relevant trials were searched in seven digital databases up to January 2021. After literature screening, data extraction, and literature quality evaluation, the included studies were meta-analyzed using RevMan 5.4 software. The evidence level was assessed using the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE).
Results: Fifteen studies involving 1030 CFS participants were included. Meta-analyses showed a favorable effect of moxibustion on the total effective rate compared with acupuncture (OR = 4.58, 95%CI = [2.85, 7.35], P < 0.00001) and drugs (OR = 6.36, 95%CI = [3.48, 11.59], P < 0.00001). Moxibustion also appeared to significantly reduce fatigue severity measured by fatigue scale-14 (FS-14) (WMD = -2.20, 95% CI = [-3.16, -1.24], P < 0.00001) and fatigue assessment instrument (FAI) (WMD = -16.36, 95% CI = [-26.58, -6.14], P=0.002) compared with the control group. In addition, among the 15 included studies, only two studies reported adverse events related to moxibustion, and the symptoms were relatively mild. The quality of evidence based on the 15 included trials was assessed as moderate to very low.
Conclusions: Based on limited evidence, moxibustion might be an effective and safe complementary therapy for chronic fatigue syndrome, which can be recommended to manage chronic fatigue syndrome. Because of the limited level of evidence in this review, further high-quality trials are still needed to confirm these findings.