Moxibustion is a wonderful Traditional Chinese herbal therapy that’s been in practice for thousands of years and is a common part of many Asian medicine (Korean, Japanese and Chinese all use it) practices. However, I have chosen to stop using in my practice and here’s why. The practitioner burns herbs mugwort (artemsia vulgaris) over certain areas of the body to introduce heat into the body to treat a wide range of conditions including: pain, fatigue, spasms, digestive difficulties, menstrual difficulties and calming the emotions.
Moxibustion is usually made from mugwort (artemesia vulgaris) is a member of the chrysanthemum family. Its use dated back for more than 2,500 years. It is used in many different forms from loose cottony moxa, to poles, used in irons and stick-ons. Therapies vary from points used, to length of exposure, repetition, quality of moxa and form used. Other used are sometimes used in moxa or independent of it (sandalwood, patchouli).
Energetically, moxa drains dampness, warms cold, moves stagnation of cold and blood, eases pain, calms the Shen and warms the uterus, expedites labor. It’s indications include: slow, sluggish digestion, cold limbs, frail and weak constitution, arthritic conditions, muscular and joint point worsens with damp and cold conditions, diarrhea, painful periods and infertility. It’s contraindications include: Any heat conditions, use with caution during pregnancy. Use with caution on the face and head and never use it over open wounds – ouch.
So why am I putting aside such a wonderful therapy? The answer is simple – smoke. Anything that is burned will create smoke and moxa is a particularly strong. For clients with weak lungs, allergies and asthma any addition smoke is not going to benefit their lungs. In just my short 25 years of practice I have seen Lung pulses declining – a sign of weakening immune systems – so I’m particularly cautious of practices and weather conditions that contribute to this. I myself have a very strong sense of smell and moxa lingers heavily in air clinging to me and my clothes and in the room. I work with a lot clients with very weak and compromised system (cancer, autoimmune disorders, etc) and to try to clear the air from one treatment to the next is just too difficult. I opt for other heat and herb therapies.
Do I still teach moxibustion to students? Yes, but only in a well ventilated place where it won’t affect other clients.
Do I recommend it for some clients? Yes, and I can give them pretty clear instructions on how to use a moxa stick at home on themselves, but again, I won’t drag other clients into it.
Here’s to better Lungs.