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Acupuncture - Moxibustion Techniques
David W Bates www.therapiesguide.co.uk


Moxibustion is a type of traditional Chinese treatment used in conjunction with acupuncture and acupressure. It is a process where moxa (a dried herb - mugwort) is burned directly on the skin or indirectly above it. The purpose of moxibustion, as with most forms of Traditional Chinese Medicine, is to stimulate and strengthen the flow of blood and Qi (vital energy), in order to maintain and improve general health.

There are two main moxibustion techniques.

Direct moxibustion: A small, cone-shaped amount of moxa is placed on top of an acupuncture point and burned on the skin. If the moxa is allowed to burn right down to the skin some scarring may occur. Direct moxibustion is a traditional technique considered to be very therapeutic, and nowadays it is very infrequent that the moxa will actually be allowed to burn down to the skin.

Indirect moxibustion: This is now accepted as the most popular form of moxibustion in many countries including China. Generally the treatment will involve the practitioner lighting one end of a moxa stick ( dried moxa herbs rolled into a stick shape which is roughly the size of a small cigar) which he/she holds an inch or two away from the skin, near the appropriate acupressure/acupuncture points. Alternatively the moxa sticks can be cut into small lengths of approximately 1 - 3 cms., these are attached to specially designed acupuncture needles and lit before being inserted into the acupuncture points. The heat produced by the burning moxa not only warms the skin but it is drawn through the needle into the channel associated with the acupuncture point.

Moxibustion therapy is generally used in conjunction with acupressure and acupuncture. It has been clinically effective for the treatment of more common conditions such as acute and chronic pain (frozen shoulder, back pain, muscle stiffness, tendonitis, arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome). Moxibustion has also been used to treat menstrual discomfort and pain, and turn breech babies.

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