Moxibustion for Pain, the Immune System, Healthy Menstruation, and Recovery from Ilness
Moxibustion and Acupuncture
Moxibustion, also called Moxa for short, is a common external treatment used in Classical Chinese Acupuncture to to relieve all kinds of muscular and fascial pains, such as you see in arthritis, neck, shoulder, rotator cuff, frozen shoulder, forearm, upper and lower back pain.
There is archeological evidence of Moxa that goes back 3400 years! It involves using a burning herb, either on the end of a needle, or separetly in a cigar like apparatus, to warm acupuncture areas and tissues. Moxa is used to relieve pain by moving Qi that has stagnated due to injury, cold, or weakness.
Dry Needling Therapy and Moxa
I even combine Moxa with my dry needling treatments, especially when its an old injury with lots of stiffness, or in an older person, or anyone whose pain is worse with cold weather. Often osteoarthritis is worse with 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, as seen in osteoarthritic pain.
You can use Moxa for any kind of pain, including the acute phase of traumatic injury. We do this to increase blood flow to the area, after the first 72 hours.
Moxibustion is used to warm the Uterus in cases of Menstrual pain due to cold and blood stasis. We see this with menstrual pain during the period, as opposed to PMS pain. History can involve a woman who feels cold easily, or who has eaten too much cold food like salads, raw food, dairy, and iced bevegeres. It may also involve women with bad cramps, but light bleeding.
Acupuncture and Moxibustion for Breech Babies
In fact, Moxibustion has even been documented to effectively move breech babies! Here we apply it directly to Acupuncture point UB 67 at the corner of your small toe. There are valid scientific studies attesting to this efficacy.
Immune System, Recovery from Illness, Weak Digestion, Weak Lungs
Moxa is extremely stregnthening to the body. It improves immunity in people who get sick too easily. It also helps people with CFS
Whereas, acupuncture and dry needling “move stagnat Qi” (in the case of dry needling we see Active Trigger Points as a form of Qi stasis), Moxabustion actually ADDS Qi to the body. It does this because heat is an energy source, and because when you move stagnant Qi with the very specific quality of Moxa heat, you restore the Qi mechanism .Now the internal organs begin to function better.
This is why moxabustion is so valuable for Chronic Fatigue syndrome and recovery from serious illness like Covid or Flu, and for surgery. I have succesfully treat some cases of Long Covid using Acupuncture, Chinese Herbs, and Moxabustion
In the case of surgery, we begin moxa as soon as you get home. In China they do it at the hospital, but here, b/c of the smoke, we cant.
Gut and Lung Disorders
Its also excellent for weak digestion due to cold in the gut. This can be cold type IBS, but also chronic diarrhea without burning sensations. It can also involve weak appetite
Because its so tonifying, we can even use it in cases of respiratory weakness. This is people who catch cold easily, who get bronchitis frequently, and in cases of Asthma due to weak lung Qi.
Actually, What is Moxibustion?
The plant used for Moxibustion, is common mugwort. 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 fact, this very same plant is used in Chinese Herbal Medicine internally, in prescriptions for menstrual pain due to cold….Such is its warming effect on the body.
In Chinese Medicine moxibustion 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-Moxibustionists.
Moxibustion is also a great adjunct to Dry Needling in cases where the patient has trigger point pain and inflammation.
How Is Moxa Done At My Clinic?
There are hundreds of varieties of moxibustion. 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 moxibustion 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 vertebrae. 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; moxibustion should feel pleasant, even wonderful.
Regular moxibustion (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 moxibustion is beneficial anywhere there is pain. Please check with a licensed practitioner first, before using Moxibustion at home for any condition, however.
Moxibustion sticks are cheap–a dollar for a large cigar sized stick of compressed “moxa”. To extinguish your moxa stick dip the burning end into some water or sand. Break this carbonized part off next use. Moxibustion is one of the best self-help tools in Chinese medicine