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Moxibustion: What Is It and Does It Work?

Ahhh, acupuncture. This stress-free therapy has traditionally been used to handle every part from allergy symptoms and complications to power ache, melancholy and infertility.  

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Practitioners of conventional Chinese medication (TCM) imagine that the power that flows by our physique, referred to as qican turn out to be disrupted and create imbalances that result in sickness. Acupuncture is one approach to stability qi — nevertheless it’s not the one method.  

“Moxibustion is another therapeutic method in traditional Chinese medicine, and it commonly goes concurrently with acupuncture,” explains acupuncturist Thuy Kim Nguyen, DAOM, LAc. Used since about 500 BCE, moxibustion entails burning floor mugwort to heat sure factors alongside your physique. 

Dr. Nguyen explains moxibustion, together with the way it works, why it’s used and whether or not it’s best for you. 

What is moxibustion? 

Mugwort, or artemisia, is a flowering plant within the daisy household. It’s utilized in meals eaten world wide, together with German Christmas goose, Korean clam soup and a inexperienced Japanese dessert referred to as kusa mochi.  

It’s additionally the important thing to moxibustion. Mugwort leaves are dried and floor into small sticks or cones referred to as moxa (much like incense), that are then lighted and used to heat factors in your physique and relieve quite a lot of circumstances.  

“Moxibustion can travel through the 12 meridians, which carry energy throughout the body,” Dr. Nguyen says. “It is able to regulate qi and blood, dispel cold, warm yang and prevent diseases to maintain overall well-being.”  

In TCM, the ideas of yin and yang stability one another, however imbalances can result in sickness. “When yang becomes deficient, then there may be an increase in cold,” Dr. Nguyen explains. 

How is moxibustion carried out? 

Direct moxibustion is when your practitioner locations moxa cones straight onto your pores and skin. More widespread within the United States, although, is oblique moxibustion, when the burning moxa doesn’t straight contact your physique. 

Your practitioner might:

  • Hold the moxa about an inch away out of your pores and skin.
  • Place the moxa onto acupuncture needles, permitting the warmth to journey to your physique by the needles.
  • Put the moxa on prime of one other therapeutic materials, comparable to ginger, salt or a bamboo “moxa box” earlier than inserting it onto your pores and skin.

Does moxibustion damage? 

It shouldn’t! With oblique moxibustion, the moxa by no means touches your pores and skin. And even with direct moxa, it’s best to solely really feel warmth and heat, however not ache; your practitioner ought to take away the moxa earlier than it burns or blisters.

What is moxibustion used for? 

“Moxibustion is usually good for cases where the disease is brought on by cold pathogens or a certain qi/yang deficiency,” Dr. Nguyen says. This contains: 

  • Joint ache. 
  • Indigestion. 
  • Organ prolapse.  
  • Gastrointestinal points. 
  • Menstrual cramps. 
  • Infertility. 

It’s additionally generally used for breech pregnancy, when a child is positioned feet- or bottom-first within the uterus relatively than head-first. Moxibustion has been shown to be an efficient approach to get a child to show round by itself, with out medical intervention. 

“In this case, moxibustion should be done during the end of the second trimester or beginning of the third trimester,” Dr. Nguyen says.  

Possible dangers of moxibustion 

Direct moxibustion could cause burns, which may end up in pus, scarring and pores and skin discoloration.  

If you’re pregnant, you’ll want to inform your acupuncturist prematurely of your therapy to allow them to use moxibustion with warning, if in any respect. And ask your acupuncturist to not use moxibustion when you’ve got: 

Where to go for moxibustion 

Moxibustion ought to solely be carried out by somebody who’s educated and expert. If you already obtain acupuncture, ask your acupuncturist whether or not they do moxibustion, or if they’ll suggest a trusted practitioner who does. 

“Moxibustion is commonly used alongside acupuncture in China, but it’s not as common in the U.S. because some clinics have poor ventilation that can’t accommodate the smoke and the smell,” Dr. Nguyen explains. If you could find a moxibustion practitioner, although, it’s a worthy addition to your wellness therapy. 

“Performing moxibustion with acupuncture can increase its effectiveness,” she says. “And if you’re not able to do acupuncture, moxibustion should be your next choice, given its ability to penetrate the 12 meridians.” 

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