Moxa other wise known as moxibustion is a Traditional Chinese Medical technique that I ofter combine with my acupuncture treatments, especially during winter and in-between seasons when its easy to get sick. Moxa is formed from a dried herb called mugwort. The smell is generally a distinct one especially in Colorado, because it often resembles marijuana. In my practice because of poor ventilation I use a smokeless stick that smells more like incense!
TYPES OF MOXIBUSTION
Typically in my office I use a moxa stick (that generally I describe as a cigar due to how it looks) after needles are inserted, the stick is lit with a flame and then I move the stick around the skin and needles about an inch off. This type of mona is called indirect moxa because the heat never touches the skin. Even though the stick never touches the skin the heat that is produced is very unique and deeply penetrating.
There are many other types of moxibustion, such as stick on moxa, needle moxa, and direct moxa (which is not typically done in the United States). No matter the form they are all still mugwort they may just be different qualities of it. For example the needle top moxa generally requires a higher grade of mugwort because it is loose and not tightly packed like sticks on and stick moxa.
WHAT IS IT USED FOR?
Some common acupuncture points I use moxa on are St36: to boost immunity and I often combine St36 with Sp6 to boost energy as well. KD1 is at the bottom of the foot and I generally use moxa in this location instead of needles because it can be sensitive, it is a deeply grounding and rejuvenating point!
Moxa can also be really effective for:
-Cold pain: this is pain that feels better with the application of heat: examples of this are arthritis or an injury
-Digestive Issues: especially diarrhea, and cramps
-Gynecological issues: cramps, painful, late, or irregular menses
-Obstetrical conditions such as late or breech baby in last term pregnancy
-Immunity boost: protections against cold and flus
WHAT WILL I FEEL?
When using moxa we are looking for the patient to feel warmth, not so hot it feels like a burn, but defiantly a noticeable warmth. Redness around the site is also very common and expected. Moxa, specially stick moxa should be a very pleasant sensation of warmth as it penetrates deep into the body!
IS MOXA RIGHT FOR ME?
Although moxa is very non invasive there are people and conditions it is not right for. If people or conditions are presenting with excess heat, moxa should be avoided as to not aggravate the condition!
What I love about moxibustion is that it can easily be done at home to help continue our treatments! All you need is a lighter and a window, and of course the moxa! I am able to train my patients the correct way to use the stick and the areas to focus on which make the results they see from acupuncture even stronger!