Moxibustion for Pain, the Immune System, and Recovery from Ilness
Moxibustion is a common treatment used in 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.
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.
Moxibustion 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 Moxibustion. Moxibustion is also used in cases of ED (Erectile Dysfunction) due to weakness.
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 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.
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