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What is Moxabustion

What is Acupuncture?
What are the benefits of acupuncture as a complementary therapy treatment?

Moxabustion is a type of traditional Chinese treatment used in conjunction with acupuncture and acupressure. It is a process whereby moxa (a dried herb, usually mugwort) is burned either directly on the skin or indirectly just above the skin over acupuncture points.
The purpose of moxabustion, 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 moxabustion techniques used.

  • Direct moxabustion:
    The moxa is formed into a small cone-shape which 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 moxabustion is a traditional technique still used in China and is considered to be very therapeutic.In the Western world it is not used frequently and the moxa will not actually be allowed to burn down to the skin.
  • Indirect moxabustion:
    This is now accepted as the most popular form of moxabustion 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 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 this acupuncture point.Some acupuncturists use a method where they burn the moxa on another medium that has been layed directly on the skin, this is often salt or sometimes a thin slice of garlic or ginger is used; this allows the heat to penetrate the body but avoids any burning.

Moxabustion 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). Moxabustion has also been used to treat menstrual discomfort and pain, and turn breech babies.


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Moxa is usually produced from mugwort (Artemesia vulgaria). After harvesting the leaves of the plant are dried then crushed and sifted, it is then graded and the finer, higher grade will be used for direct application and the less refined grade left is generally used for indirect application.When the moxa burns it produces a fairly penetrating heat which the acupuncturist will apply to the appropriate body area to enter the channels and influence the flow of Qi and the blood supply. Moxa is available in a loose powder form which is used to make moxa cones or for wrapping around specially designed acupuncture needles.Alternatively the moxa can be rolled into a cigar shaped form usually 12-15cms. long.

Read much more about Acupuncture in one of these excellent books.....



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