What is Moxibustion?
Moxibustion is a traditional Chinese medicine technique that involves the burning of mugwort (Artemisia Vulgaris), a small, spongy herb, to facilitate healing. Moxibustion has been used throughout Asia for thousands of years.
What is Moxibustion Used For?
Moxibustion strengthens the blood, stimulates the flow of qi and blood, expels cold and retention of excess fluids and phlegm, warms the uterus, stops bleeding, warms the spleen and the stomach to remove stagnation, regulates menstruation and calms the fetus and is great to prevent diseases and maintain general health. In Western medicine, moxibustion has successfully been used to turn breech babies into a normal head-down position prior to childbirth.
A landmark study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1998 found that up to 75 of women suffering from breech presentations before childbirth had fetuses that rotated to the normal position after receiving moxibustion at an acupuncture point on the Bladder meridian.
How does Moxibustion work? Does it hurt?
There are two types of moxibustion: direct and indirect.
In direct moxibustion, a small, cone-shaped amount of moxa is placed on top of an acupuncture point and burned. This type of moxibustion is called non-scarring moxibustion. With non-scarring moxibustion, the moxa is placed on the point and lit, but is extinguished or removed before it burns the skin. The patient will experience a pleasant heating sensation that penetrates deep into the skin, but should not experience any pain, blistering or scarring unless the moxa is left in place for too long.
Indirect moxibustion is currently the more popular form of care because there is a much lower risk of pain or burning. In indirect moxibustion, a practitioner lights one end of a moxa stick, roughly the shape and size of a cigar, and holds it close to the area being treated for several minutes until the area turns red. Another form of indirect moxibustion uses both acupuncture needles and moxa. A needle is inserted into an acupoint and retained. The tip of the needle is then wrapped in moxa and ignited, generating heat to the point and the surrounding area. After the desired effect is achieved, the moxa is extinguished and the needle(s) removed.
Are there any precautions I should be aware of?
Although moxibustion has been safely used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries, it is not for everyone. Because it is used specifically for patients suffering from cold or stagnant constitutions, it should not be used on anyone diagnosed with too much heat. Burning moxa also produces a great deal of smoke and a pungent odor. Patients with respiratory problems may request that their practitioner use smokeless moxa sticks as an alternative.
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