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moxa and acupuncture

Moxa - Infrared Heat Therapy and an Acupuncturist's Secret for Better Health

arthritis digestion hormones infertility moxa

Moxibustion treatment is the burning of small bits of the dried herb artemisia (also called Mugwort) close to designated points of the body.  It transfers the heat from the herb, generally on the same points as those used in acupuncture.  It's similar to an infrared heat therapy, but with the additional benefits of the herb as well.  

Acupuncture's purpose is to unblock the flow of Qi and Blood in the body.  Qi and Blood won't flow to a cold area, so we use moxa to help the acupuncture treatment work better. 

Mugwort (“Ai Ye” 艾叢) is a common weed in China.  The herb can be taken orally or used externally in Chinese herbal therapy.  It acts on the Liver, Spleen, and Kidney meridians. 

Traditional clinical usage for moxa are for spitting blood, nosebleed, menstrual disorders, uterine bleeding, PMS, bleeding during pregnancy, restless fetus, chest and abdomen pain due to cold, diarrhea and prolonged dysentery, abnormal vaginal discharge, eczema, sores, and ringworm. 

But really, almost everyone can benefit from using moxa. 

That’s why the ancient Chinese used mugwort so often – it is easy to find, easy to store, and it works so well.

At the Dragon Boat Festival, people hang mugwort and calamus (“Chang Pu”) on their front doors for good luck.  Mugwort wards off "evil," you see.  

The heat generated during moxibustion helps increase the flow of vital energy (also known as “Qi” or “chi”) throughout the body via certain pathways (known as “meridians“). In traditional Chinese medicine, stimulating the flow of Qi is considered essential to achieving health and wellness. In fact, physical and mental health problems are thought to develop (in part) as a result of blockages in the flow of Qi.  

The moxibustion mechanism is related to the thermal effects, radiation effects, and pharmacological actions of moxa and its combustion products. Experimental results show that moxibustion thermal stimulation affects both shallow and deep tissues of the skin. The moxa radiation spectrum ranges near infrared.

Mugwort leaves and moxa smoke have a variety of biological activities. Although a lot of research has been done, there is still a great more to fully understand about moxibustion.

Clinical results with moxa that we see every day:

  • Menstrual cramps go away
  • Digestive problems like diarrhea or bloating improve quickly
  • Arthritis pains get better faster
  • Excessive bleeding stops
  • Fertility improves

How to use it

Moxa Sticks: Looks like a long cigar. Lit on fire, then a smoldering stick, like incense.  Usually moved around an acupuncture point about 1/2 inch to 1 inch away from the skin. It can be moved in a circle, or bird-pecking like back and forth towards the skin and off, or held without moving for 1~3 mins at the same location until it feels too hot.  

Moxa Boxes are made of metal or wood and are designed to hold the lit moxa inside. The heat will gradually increase during the treatment and can be moved over a large area.

Winter Disease and Summer Treatment

The “Dog Days of Summer” moxa treatment originated in the Qing Dynasty. The goal is to stimulate Yang energy in the body during the most Yang season of the year, so that in the Yin time (winter), you will maintain your health. To prevent the winter flu, common cold, cedar allergies, or arthritis pains, this is something to try.

In each phase of summer, you have 3 treatment sessions of moxa, (9 treatments total) —

Beginning : July 16 ~ July 25

Middle : July 26 ~ Aug 14

Ending : Aug 15 ~ Aug 24

There are lifestyle and diet recommendations during these three periods —

Avoid excessively cold AC temperatures (75-78 degrees is ok), greasy food, fried food, seafood, alcohol, cigarettes, and staying up late.

It’s recommended to drink ginger tea in the morning and 1.8~2 L of pure water daily.

Helpful foods during this treatment period include bitter melon, winter melon, mung beans, red beans, and black beans (soaked overnight).

For people who want the benefits of acupuncture without getting needled, moxa is an ideal treatment.

For anyone who wants to prevent cedar fever (a winter-time Austin regular), arthritis pains that worsen in cold and damp weather, or asthma, give this a try.

What’s the worst that could happen? You’ll leave our office smelling smoky.

What’s the best that could happen? You’ll be healthy all year long.

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