Moxibustion is an Oriental medicine therapy utilizing moxa, or mugwort herb. In the traditional medical systems of China, Japan, Korea, and Tibet, moxibustion plays a vital role. Moxa, also known as Artemesia Vulgaris in Latin, is a Chinese herb which is applied externally.
Practitioners age the mugwort, which is then ground up and processed into a cigar-shaped stick. The herb is often burned indirectly over body regions and acupuncture points to stimulate circulation. Moxa may also be burned directly on a patient’s skin as well.
Moxibustion is used in varying techniques by different schools of acupuncture. A TCM practitioner will use moxa rolls by holding them over the acupuncture point to be treated. A five-element acupuncture practitioner uses moxa directly on the skin.
In the treatment of deficient conditions, or weaknesses, chronic health problems and gerontology, moxibustion is particularly effective. In traditional Chinese medicine, moxibustion is used on individuals who have a cold or stagnant condition.
The moxa herb contains an active ingredient, borneol, which has antiseptic and analgesic effects. Borneol is often used in topical therapies. The primary therapeutic actions of moxibustion are stimulation of chi flow and blood strengthening. The burning of moxa aids in expelling cold and warms the meridian channels, which leads to smoother flow of chi and blood.
Acupuncture and moxibustion, although perceived in the contemporary clinic as two separate therapy modalities, was traditionally viewed as two components of a therapeutic approach utilized to treat disease and maintain health. Medical historians believe moxibustion pre-dated acupuncture, and acupuncture eventually developed into a supplement and independent therapy to moxibustion after the 2nd century BC.
Traditionally, small amounts of moxa were burned directly on the skin. In direct moxibustion, a small, cone-shaped amount of moxa is placed on top of an acupuncture point, burned, and then extinguished. The patient experiences a heating sensation.
However, many contemporary clinics utilize an indirect moxibustion style, burning the moxa stick over selected acupuncture points. Holding the stick over certain points has a healing effect while mildly warming the particular body region.
Moxa may also be used indirectly, in conjunction with acupuncture, by igniting a small amount of wrapped moxa at the tip of an acupuncture needle. After the moxa generates heat to the point and surrounding area, the moxa is extinguished and the needle is removed.
Acupuncture, combined with moxibustion, is useful in the treatment of many health conditions and ailments, including: Arthritis, sprains, muscle stiffness, strains, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, inflammation, swelling, menstrual disorders, cold and flu treatment and prevention, digestive disorders, asthma, fatigue, back pain, frozen shoulder, wheezing, and cough.
For more information about acupuncture and moxibustion for health and wellness call Dr. Richard Browne, Acupuncture Physician, at (305) 595-9500.