Moxibustion Medical Therapy: Warming the Channels

The Chinese medical therapy called moxibustion warms regions of the body and can penetrate to the muscles, tendons and bones. Moxibustion helps to relieve pain, stimulate blood circulation, relax muscles, and induce a healthier flow of chi, or energy. By warming and opening the channels and collaterals, it assists the body’s  natural healing processes. Moxibustion therapy uses the herb, mugwort or Artemesia Argyi. The fuzz that grows on the underside of the mugwort leaf is made into moxa. Acupuncturists and/or Chinese medical practitioners may use moxa directly on the skin and on top of needles. Most commonly, a roll of moxa, which can be smokeless, is held directly over an acupuncture point, causing the patient to experience a calming and warming sensation.

Moxibustion is thought to predate acupuncture. As early as the discovery and use of fire, early man noticed that heat from their fires could be warming and curative. Before mugwort was chosen as the most effective substance for sustaining heat, hot stones or sand wrapped in animal skins may have been used for local hot compression. The mugwort used in moxibustion today comes from China and is aged seven years before the quality is considered sufficient for use.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), moxibustion is especially effective in the treatment of chronic pain conditions, weak immunity, low appetite, poor digestion, cold hands and feet, kidney failure, frequent urination, cold sensations, obstructed blood circulation and various other health conditions. It is especially noted for its ability to help turn breech babies head down.

Whether a patient has a health condition or not, moxibustion can be used on a regular basis. Daily or weekly moxibustion over specific acupuncture points can extend life by strengthening the patient’s chi as well as various bodily systems, such as the digestive, immune, skeletal, and circulatory systems.

A TCM practitioner may recommend that a patient buy a stick of moxa and use it at home. The moxa stick is lighted until the end forms a glowing coal, then held or moved over prescribed points until sufficient warmth is achieved. It is important to make sure that the moxa stick is thoroughly extinguished after the treatment, or it will continue to burn.