Moxibustion (usually referred to as Moxa) is an integral part of Chinese Medicine.
If someone’s energy is very low, they are tired or lethargic, we would consider them to be in a depleted condition.
Also if they have been exposed to a cold environment, which has “invaded” their body, Moxa will often be used. This to help tonify them, or to counteract the cold which had invaded their body.
Typical points used to warm their body, would be Ren 6 (on the abdomen) or Bladder 23 (small of the back). See photo.
What is it?
Moxa is actually mugwort herb, dried out and compressed into rolls or made into a cotton wool like form.
The form of the Moxa used varies. The commonest forms are :
Punk Moxa / cones – direct Moxa
A bit like green cotton wool, which is formed into tiny cones and placed directly on the skin at the point to be heated. The cone is then lit, and as it smoulders it puts heat into the point. It is, of course, removed before it reaches to skin, to ensure it doesn’t burn.
A stick (a bit like a Groucho Marks cigar) with the mugwort tightly bound, is lit and as it smoulders, it is held close to the point, to warm it, usually for several minutes. Again care is taken to ensure the skin does not become too hot.
This is the form I use most often, as it is both convenient and safe.
Moxa needle roll
This is a small (almost 1” long, ¼” diameter) tightly packed roll of moxa, like a mini stick. It is placed on the top of an acupuncture needle and is very effective for getting heat into a specific point. This is used a lot in China.
This is a small, usually wooden, box about 6”x4”x4”, which has a metal mesh inside. Loose punk moxa is placed above the mesh and burned, producing a diffused warmth below the box on that part of the body.
By placing the box on, say, the small of the back or the abdomen, we can get warmth gently into necessary points, in a very comfortable and relaxing way. A vey nice way of ending a treatment, where it is appropriate for a client’s condition.
A modern means of getting the benefit of a moxa box without the inconvenience of having a burning herb in the room. This is useful if a client has weakened lungs or a very sensitive sense of smell.
The TDP heatlamp has a plate coated in the chemicals found in mugwort, to replicate the effect. When the lamp is positioned a few inches away from a point, or area, it gives a gentle warmth, similar to a moxa box.
I also use this form frequently, as it is convenient, comfortable for my clients and, as mentioned, avoids the smoke – which might be problematic for someone with very sensitive lungs.