What is Moxibustion?
Moxibustion is a commonly used modality of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Moxibustion, or “moxa” for short, is the burning of a Chinese herb, ai ye (Artemisiae argyi), on or near the skin. Through the warming quality of this herb, moxibustion treats and even prevents illness. It is not simply the warmth which could result from burning any herb that has such capabilities. The ai ye has a mild heat which can penetrate deeply into the muscles and meridians. This particular heat is yang in nature. It moves, it warms, it activates.
Proper use of moxibustion can regulate qi and blood flow in the meridians by activating the qi and expelling cold accumulations. Cold is considered a pathogenic influence in the body. It can enter the body and collect in channels or joints thereby impeding the smooth flow of qi through the body, often resulting in painful conditions. You may know someone who has a condition that always worsens in the cold weather, joints may ache more or a stiff neck acts up when sitting under a breezy window… these are signs of cold blocking the flow of qi through the channels and collaterals. The cold is present and is felt more acutely when the environment becomes cooler, exacerbating the condition. It is almost always accompanied by pain, stiffness, or a reduced range of motion.
Moxibustion warms up the channels and promotes circulation of qi and blood. If used properly, this technique can expel cold accumulations and eliminate those cold-related pain conditions, returning proper blood flow to the region. This usage is also applied to ease menstrual cramps, improve digestion, and alleviate fatigue.
Moxibustion not only moves qi by unblocking cold accumulations, but it can guide the movement of qi in a particular direction. When qi is lacking in one area of the body and is in excess in another, moxibustion can help eliminate the disproportion of qi throughout the body, restoring an energetic balance.
Not only can moxibustion help correct disease states but it can also help to prevent illnesses from occurring. If applied regularly to certain acupuncture points, moxibustion promotes longevity and good health. Used in this manner, it strengthens the body’s constitution on a deep level. Studies have even shown a rise in platelet and white blood cell count after moxa is burned over specific acupuncture points.
Turing Breech Babies
A very noteworthy use of moxibustion is in turning breech or malpositioned babies. Daily moxibustion, applied to acupuncture point UB 67, is statistically proven to increase fetal motility resulting in the repositioning of the fetus. Use of moxibustion in correctly positioning a breech baby or a posterior presentation has a quite a high success rate. Typically, best results are seen when the course of treatment is begun in the 34th week of pregnancy but can still be effective as late as 38-39 weeks.
Moxibustion has a range of usages but it may not be appropriate for all patients. Always consult with your acupuncturist to ensure moxibustion is a suitable treatment method.