Moxibustion is the burning of cones made from the processed fine leaves of the Mugwort plant on Acupuncture points, or on broad areas of the body to achieve specific healing effects. Moxabustion is warm, and as heat is an energy source, it is a way to add energy to the acupuncture channel, whereas the needle therapy unblocks stagnation of energy. As such, moxabustion is considered strengthening to the body, and can be used for conditions of weakness and cold .
But heat also “moves the qi,” and the moxa leaves being spicy, have a very “yang” nature, so that they can also strongly open channels, especially when blocked by cold, and relieve pain caused by Qi and blood stasis,Cold and Dampness. It is also used to warm the Uterus in cases of pain due to cold and blood stasis.
Asthma, Diarrhea, Rheumatic pain, abdominal pain, vomiting, certain Gynecological disorders, any kind of pain due to cold or deficiency and deficient organ function are some of the main disorders treated with Moxa.
The Moxa plant, in Chinese called Ai Ye is a member of the Artemesia family,and flourishes throughout China and is therefore relatively cheap. The fresh leaves are picked in the Spring and dried in the sun. The dried leaves are then ground into a fine powder or moxa ‘wool.’
In Chinese Medicine moxa-bustion is especially popular in fall and winter, when it is used to warm the channels and strengthen the organ complexes, especially the Adrenal-Digestive axis (Kidney-Spleen). In fact, it is so much a part of our work, that in Chinese, Acupuncturists are actually called Acupuncture-Moxabustionists.
There are hundreds of varieties of moxa. One is the stick type you can get at any Chinese Herb shop. It is easy to do at home and I often recommend you incorporate it as part of your self-help program.
What you do is light a moxabustion stick and hold it close enough to your skin so as to feel heat without burning. Do this at the locations Zu San Li, San Yin Jiao, Qi Hai and Zhong Wan. Have someone else do it at the space between your physical Kidneys around the 2nd Lumbar vertabrae. What I do in my acupuncture practice here in San Diego is show people the locations, so they can do it at home, first thing in the morning, once or twice a weak.
Acupuncture “points” are actually caves. They are depressions in the surface of the body where the Qi of the channels is easily influenced. The idea is to warm these spaces gradually and deeply; moxa-bustion should feel pleasant, even wonderful. Regular moxabustion (once a fortnight) before and during the winter season will prevent colds and remedy arthritic and other types of pains. In most circumstances application of moxa is beneficial anywhere there is pain. Please check with a licensed practitioner first, before usiing Moxa at home for any condition, however.
Moxa sticks are cheap–a dollar for a large cigar sized stick of compressed “moxa” (common name mugwort, latin artemesia vulgaris, Mandarin Chinese ai ye ). To extinguish your moxa stick dip the burning end into some water or sand. Break this carbonized part off next use. Moxa is one of the best self-help tools in Chinese medicine
Cupping is a method of treating disease that is caused by local congestion. A partial vacuum is created in a cupping jar, usually by means of heat, which is then applied directly to the skin. The underlying tissue is drawn up into the jar forming an area of blood stasis. This appears to bruise the area, or at least turn it a bright red. The amount of dark red or even purple blood drawn to the surface indicates the degree of stagnation. Dark blood is a sign of stagnation, which in many cases in modern terms is the amount of toxins in the blood. There are some pictures of cupping in the slide show on my home page.
I like to use cupping to relieve all kinds of muscular and fascial pains, such as you see in arthritis, neck, shoulder, forearm, upper and lower back pain. It is great for all kinds of sports injuries from sprains to tendinitis. I often combine cupping with the application of Chinese Herbal Liniments which come from the Chinese Martial Arts traditions. These are called Dit Dat Jiao, and are a very affective way to increase blood circulation to an area and reduce inflammation and draw toxins like lactic acid out of the tissues.