Thanks to the thousands of years Chinese societies have existed, various medical techniques have come up in their history – many of which you be unfamiliar with. Moxibustion is among them, and we will investigate its origins, as well as its treatment process, and whether it is compatible with modern medicine.
What is Moxibustion in Chinese medicine?
This is a traditional form of therapy that originated in China, and its treatment method consists of burning dried mugwort leaves on specific body parts. Mugwort is a spongy, small herb that people believe improves healing when you use it alongside acupuncture. Not only was it used in China, but also spread to its neighbors – Vietnam, Korea, Japan, Tibet, and Mongolia.
When seeking treatment, the supplier will age the mugwort and grind it into powder, then practitioners can choose to process the powder into a cigar-shaped stick or burn the fluff. They can then opt to burn it on your skin or use it indirectly through acupuncture needles.
While centuries of its use have promoted it as a worthwhile treatment for various conditions, it has risks of adverse effects, and its use is not promoted by extensively good evidence. The main benefit was believed to be its strengthening of your life force or Qi, which boosts good health and promotes proper system flow in the body.
History of Moxibustion
The beginnings of moxibustion as a treatment method are unclear, and neither are there any source documents attributing it to a specific individual. The earliest form of writing on the moxibustion method is in the Oracle Bone Scripts, which were the earliest forms of writing in China. They suggest the treatment was used during the Yin dynasty (between 1600 BC to 1046 BC).
The first Western commentary on the treatment was from Portuguese missionaries, writing it from 16th Century Japan. In 1764, a researcher called Hermann Buschoff published the first western book on the topic and called the mugwort mogusa, according to the Japanese pronunciation. Since the ‘u’ is not strongly pronounced, he wrote it as moxa, which authors joined with the Latin term for burning (combustio).
How does Moxibustion work?
The therapist using the treatment can either do it indirectly or directly. If it is direct, the moxa cone will rest on the site where your body requires treatment. The practitioner will then ignite one end of the cone, leaving it as it gradually burns. Once you begin feeling the heat and your skin begins turning red, the practitioner will remove the cone.
The indirect style of treatment mainly involves placing the moxa on an acupuncture needle, then igniting and leaving it to burn slowly. The aim is to leave the moxa until it burns out, then the practitioner will insert the acupuncture needle to the treatment site to transfer the heat. Additionally, the other indirect method involves using garlic or salt layers to insulate your skin from the moxa cone or filling moxa boxes with the powder, igniting them, and placing them on your treatment site.
The indirect method is more common and is generally safer as the moxa does not contact your skin as it burns. Instead of this, it stays away from your body at about 0.5 inches.
What is moxibustion good for?
For alternative medicine practitioners, it is common knowledge that moxibustion processes generate heat, which improves energy flow through your body in paths called meridians. According to Chinese traditional medicine, energy movement and stimulation is essential to improving wellness and health.
The essence of moxibustion treatments is unblocking the flow of energy, a problem that leads to physical and mental health issues. Due to this, it is a popular treatment method for headaches, back pain, tendonitis, arthritis, muscle stiffness, migraines, fatigue, ulcers, cancer, menstrual cramps, infertility, and digestive problems.
There are various studies examining the benefits of the treatment to health, including its effectiveness. For instance, a study found it as a great therapy option for chronic kidney issues, as it reduced serum creatinine that impaired kidney function. However, its effects on other treatment systems are not known, so it is best to go to a professional to perform the procedure.
Moxibustion points chart
Moxibustion points use acupuncture principles to correct or ‘re-balance’ the energy flow in the body and regulate metabolism.
To improve your immunity and perform general health maintenance, the points include the bladder if you are in the latter stages of pregnancy, the stomach, one of the blood vessels if you suffer from stomach issues, and the large intestine.
Some things you should know about moxibustion before using it as a treatment method
Since moxibustion is part of alternative medicine, it does not mean it will work effectively for everyone who uses it. Here are some things you must be mindful of when going through the procedure:
- You must never perform it on sensitive tissues or over your face. Additionally, avoid it if you are a patient that cannot feel pain or heat sensations, mainly due to neurological impairment or age.
- Since moxibustion involves burning the mugwort powder over the body of the patient, it will require extreme caution and care. For instance, a practitioner must never leave a patient alone during this procedure, as the heat will affect people differently. For instance, you might experience a burning sensation very quickly, while another person feels the same burn as a mild, pleasant sensation for a longer time. regardless of the case, a practitioner must assess the patient frequently to see any signs of tissue damage or skin redness.
- The procedure must never be done on children. If they need it, only indirect methods of treatment are safe enough but must follow extreme caution.
- If you are a practitioner, be attentive in how you extinguish the moxa, since the smoldering embers might be present under the ash. The best tip is to use a special metal container that is reserved for moxa and ash waste.
Moxibustion is an alternative medical procedure for various ailments, but it is good to consider whether it will work for you before deciding to do it.