What is Moxibustion?
The medical process of heat therapy which is applied by burning dried plant material (moxa) near the surface of the skin is referred to as Moxibustion.
The goal of the process is to invigorate the flow of Qi in certain parts of the body in view of dispelling certain pathogenic trends.
The dried leafy material of Chinese Mugwort (Artemisia argyi or Artemisia vulugaris) is used in the making of Moxa. Other substances may also be applied in the making of Moxa.
What Exactly Does the Practitioner Do?
The medical practitioners usually hold a burning Moxa stick very close to the skin without actually making contact with the surface of the skin.
The intricacies of the process involve compressing of the moxa material into a stick or pole more or less like an oversized cigar. After lighting the moxa, it does smolder and produce a form of highly penetrative heat.
The Moxibustion process often involves the holding of smoldering moxa over specific areas corresponding to certain acupuncture point. The proximity of the moxa to the skin is usually close enough to the skin until it causes reddening and consequently becomes permeated with warmth.
What Can I Expect to Feel?
It is a common experience for patients who are receiving moxibustion treatment to experience a sudden flood of warmth that radiates along a specific pathway which corresponds with the jing luo channel being treated. This experience is a good development, it is an indication that the arrival of the Qi and the expulsion of xue from the said channel.
When Is Moxibustion Used?
Moxibustion is applied in the treatment of:
- Arthritis pain and some other “cold” condition that is alleviated at the application of heat.
- Anomaly in digestion
- Gynecological and obstetrical conditions and come complications in late term pregnancy
- Prevention of cold and flu strains
Most practitioners apply a combination of acupuncture and moxibustion in clinic session when it is imperative to apply the method in diagnosis and treatment strategy. It is generally believed that the duo therapies become more effective when used together.
The treatment of moxibustion can be easily applied at home unlike acupuncture which require the attention of a trained professional and usually done in a clinic setting. It is also common for Chinese professional medical practitioners to train their patients in the process of using moxa in view of strengthening the effect of previous clinical sessions in between clinical treatments.
What Does It Smell Like?
It is worthy of note that there is a minor inconvenience associated with moxibustion such as smoke and odor. There are some other models of moxa that does not produce much smoke; however, the preferred model of moxa which is made from Mugwort does produce a lot of smoke.
This smoking effect is not significant as most Traditional Chinese Medicine clinics are well ventilated and equipped with air purification system.
It is however common for most TCM practitioners to place signs informing patients and visitors on the nature of odor that may be perceived in the clinic environment. The moxa odor is somewhat strong and smells more like marijuana. It can be quite offensive.