Smoke Show: The Healing Power Of Moxibustion- PUBLISHED AT APOTHECAI.COM
By now we’ve all seen pictures of athletes and celebrities with big, red circles on their backs, the tell-tale sign of a cupping session. Cupping, a Traditional Chinese Medicine technique that’s been around longer than TMZ, is a close cousin to moxibustion, a form of heat therapy designed to energize the flow of qi in the body.
While cupping stimulates blood and qi flow through suction, moxibustion uses heat and herbs to get things moving.
Moxibustion practitioners burn a substance called moxa for their heat source. Traditionally created from dried mugwort or wormwood leaves, moxa comes in the form of sticks you light and hold like a cigar, or as a smaller bundle that’s placed atop an acupuncture needle. In some cases, moxa is burned directly on the skin, which is as painful as it sounds and not recommended. For obvious reasons, the majority of present-day TCM practitioners prefer the indirect application.
Moxibustion therapy focuses on bringing heat and warmth—yang—into areas of the body that are experiencing cold or stuck energy—yin. Moxibustion is often used in conjunction with acupuncture; the same pathways and energy meridians in the body are stimulated with the goal of restoring the balance of Yin and Yang in the body. During a session, moxa is burned above the surface of the skin until the meridian point targeted becomes warm and red, indicating that qi is beginning to flow.
For people with excessive cooling in the body in the form of arthritis or chronic pain, they often experience a healing release when warmth is applied to certain points, sensing a flow of energy moving through a meridian that was previously stuck.
Sluggish qi can impact our digestive, respiratory, circulatory, and reproductive systems. Moxibustion can work preventatively—consider it a line of defense during flu season—and acutely. You might want to bring some heat to your self-care routine if you experience any of the following:
• DIGESTIVE AND URINARY AILMENTS, INCLUDING DIARRHEA, CONSTIPATION OR URINARY RETENTION.
• FERTILITY AND PREGNANCY COMPLICATIONS, INCLUDING PAINFUL PERIODS.* MOXIBUSTION HAS ALSO BEEN USED TO GET A BREECHED BABY INTO THE OPTIMAL HEAD-DOWN POSITION FOR DELIVERY.
• WEAKNESS, FATIGUE, AND AGE-RELATED DISCOMFORTS.
• ARTHRITIS AND CHRONIC PAIN.
Edited by Alison Baenen
*image courtesy of apothecai.com