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What is moxibustion?

22 October 2015

What is moxibustion?
Heat therapy has a long history of use throughout time for healing purposes in civilisations. Humans have felt the benefits from a hot spring bath, to heating up stones, to burying oneself in warm volcanic ash. Moxibustion is a therapy that is used in tandem with acupuncture as a complementary therapy.
It is the therapeutic practice of burning the plant mugwort or artemesia vulgaris on or near the surface of the skin. It has healing, heating and stimulating effects.
There are 2 types of practices, they are indirect or direct application.

Indirect moxa is when it is placed on an area of your body which is on a platform or a barrier and is raised above the skin. For example if moxa is applied to the navel a bed of salt or a slice of ginger may be placed there. The salt or ginger acts as a platform so the moxa is not in direct contact with the skin. This is a way to raise the yang Qi or put in warmth to ones ‘centre’ the umbilicus. When you need to put in warmth it needs to be slow and gentle. Moxa may also be placed on the head of a needle so the heat can penetrate deeper into the body.

Direct moxa is when it is burned directly onto the skin with no barrier. These may be sesame seed, rice grain or cone sized. It is placed directly on the skin where it will smoulder and put heat into the body then is extinguished and removed before reaching the skin. It is a gentle warmth that pleasantly penetrates the tissue.
Some of the benefits of moxibustion include:
– warms and invigorates the flow of Qi and blood in the channels
– increases lymphatic circulation and drainage
– causes the capillaries to dilate and increases movement of blood
– increases the production of white blood cells
– reduces inflammation
– encourages faster healing process

Qi (Chinese) Ki (Japanese) is more than a word; it is a concept, idea, philosophy. A direct translation does not exist in the English language though most simply explained it is energy that encompasses all things living. It is the dance and interplay of life force that is constantly moving, changing and allows growth, health, wellness and life.
When Qi is blocked there is stagnation in the energetic channels of the body. They become blocked and this is often when pain and diseases can occur.
When an acupuncturist takes your pulse they are checking for the imbalances in your organs and meridians. As they treat you they often refer back to the pulse to see if the pulses are balanced from the points that they choose.
In Eastern medicine we always make reference to Qi / Ki as we are constantly striving to ensure a smooth flow of Qi in the body. In encouraging harmonious movement of Qi in your body we are able prevent illness and promote a well-nourished body, mind and spirit.

Christina Noelle Atkins
Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine