What is Moxibustion?

Moxibustion is a heat treatment which uses burning moxa (mugwort herb) to warm regions and acupuncture points to facilitate treatment of diseases. Suppliers usually age the mugwort and grind it up to a fluff. Practitioners process it further into a cigar-shaped stick or a small cone-shaped amount of moxa.

Method of Moxibustion

There are two methods for moxibustion: direct and indirect moxibustion. Presently however, direct moxibustion is not performed routinely, as it may have some undesirable effects such as blistering, burn marks, and even scarring at the moxibustion site. Indirect moxibustion can prevent skin damage. Acupuncturists place a medium (slice of ginger, topical paste, etc.) between the skin and the burning moxa or hold a cigar-shaped stick made of mugwort near the acupuncture point to heat the skin, or hold it on an acupuncture needle inserted in the skin to heat the needle.

Theory of Moxibustion

Moxibustion and acupuncture have always gone together as one compound name in the Chinese classics on treatment of illness. Both of them are based on the same theory. Oriental Chinese practitioners believe that moxibustion can warm the meridians and stimulate circulation through the acupuncture points and induce a smoother flow of blood and Qi to keep the balance of Yin and Yang.

Effects of Moxibustion

Bian Que (circa 500 BCE), one of the most famous doctors throughout the Chinese history and the first specialist in moxibustion, discussed the benefits of moxa in his classic works. He asserted that moxa could add new energy to the body and could treat both excess and deficient conditions. It is believed that moxibustion has four major effects:

  • Warm the channels and scatter the cold: When the blood freezes, it does not move. And if Qi is in cold condition, it will not be able to push the blood in normal circulation, and the coldness will cause the stasis of blood. For example, joint soreness and pain are caused both by cold weather and air conditioning. Without using fire to regulate, results cannot be achieved. In these conditions, moxibusition treatment is necessary. It can move Qi and blood by warming the meridians and getting rid of cold and dampness.
  • Support Yang and consolidate the vital energy: Yang is the basis for the metabolism in the body. If Yang is weak, Yin will be excessive, which causes symptoms of cold, numbness and even coma. In such conditions, practitioners use moxibustion to warm and tonify Yang to keep the balance of Yin and Yang.
  • Transport Qi and Blood: moxibution can push the flow of Qi and invigorate blood circulation. This will help resolve problems with sinking Qi, such as chronic diarrhea.
  • Prevent diseases: moxibustion has a long history of use for many illnesses as well as disease prevention and longevity promotion. It is believed that burning moxa (mugwort herb) is able to expel the evil Qi out of the body to prevent diseases. And because moxibustion can support Yang and consolidate the vital energy, it is widely used by oriental Chinese practitioners for the promotion of longevity.

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