New international standard gains SHUTCM support
Updated: 2018-09-19

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A news report of ISO 20493, Traditional Chinese medicine – Infrared moxibustion-like instrument published on the official website of the International Organization of Standardization [Photo provided to study-shanghai.org]

A new international standard on the safety and quality of instruments for moxibustion, a form of acupuncture that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine by doctors and therapists for thousands of years, was published on Aug 29.

The standard was developed by Technical Committee, Traditional Chinese Medicine, at the International Standardization Organization (ISO/TC 249), whose secretariat is held by SAC, ISO's member for China, with Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine (SHUTCM) undertaking the work.

Professor Yang Huayuan from SHUTCM led the development of the standard. He was inspired by the rising number of various infrared moxibustion-like instruments currently available on the market, as the devices act as a modern way of moxibustion, which can irradiate the body at different acupuncture points through simulating the heating effect and infrared spectrum originally created by burning "moxa" plants.

Professor Yang realized the importance of distinguishing between different devices to ensure their safety and quality, as the ones used in traditional Chinese medicine for various disease treatments usually feature specific wavelengths. So in 2014 he proposed to set standards on such a device, aiming to have minimum requirements for manufacturers and regulators alike.

The proposal was approved in 2015. The following 41 months, for preparation, drafting, enquiry, approval and publication, they received the support from a panel of experts from China, Australia, Canada, South Africa and Thailand.

"ISO 20493 defines the scope and technical requirements needed to ensure safety and quality, providing a basis on which regulations can be made, and ultimately also facilitating international trade," said David Graham, chairman of ISO/TC 249.

Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine contributed to this story.

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