moxibustion

(Chinese: 灸; pinyin: jiǔ)


Moxibustion, or "moxa", is a medicinal therapy which consists of burning the dried herb mugwort (Artemisia argyi) on or near the patient's body.  Mugwort has been hailed in the folk medicine of many cultures.  This practice enforces yang qi, the body's natural life force; it courses and frees the flow of blood in the vessels, moves the qi, quickens the blood, dispels damp, warms cold, disperses swelling, scatters nodules, and corrects counterflow.  A wand of moxa can be held above acupuncture points, with or without a needle.  Little orbs of loose moxa can be fixed to the end of the needles and lit.  Some moxa comes pre-formed and sits atop tiny platforms, which are placed directly on the skin.  Sometimes, we hand roll moxa into shapes like little grains of rice and light them with a stick of incense.  There are numerous ways to use this herb.  The one we use the most is the wand/stick/roll/cigar-variety pictured left.  But don't be surprised if we pour salt in your navel and rest the moxa atop.

The best research on moxa shows that it is effective in turning breech babies in utero naturally and has a positive effect on women's issues, relieving menstrual pain and regulating periods.  Moxa is also wonderful for certain types of arthritis, respiratory issues, such as asthma, digestive problems, organ prolapse, relieving spasms and epilepsy, calming the mind, and overall, for strengthening the immune system and warding off disease, epidemics and pestilence.

Where as cupping is indicated for strong constitutions, moxa is applicable for both hearty and fragile alike.  For weak, sensitive, or tired constitutions, it helps strengthen vim, vigor, and vitality. 

When burned, moxibustion has a strong, smoky, herbaceous scent and radiates a comforting, soothing sensation.  It is a beloved practice in China (including Tibet), Japan, Korea, Vietnam and Mongolia; and is growing in popularity in the US and the UK.