The Cleveland Traditional Chinese Medicine art of moxibustion can be a potential method for enhancing the immune function of cancer patients. It is a lesser-known treatment in the West than acupuncture, although, recently, this excellent healing technique is experiencing a rise in popularity in the Western world.
Moxibustion involves the use of the Artemesia princeps or Artemesia argyi herb or mugwort where “Moxa” is derived from. This specific type of mugwort is grounded, filtered, fluffed, and aged, producing a soft, very light, refined wool. The wool is then set alit on the upper tip of an acupuncture needle, or very near the skin of the patient. This treatment process is what’s termed as moxibustion. The ensuing smoke and heat generated by the smoldering moxa bring in special healing effects.
Moxibustion has most recently been used on patients who have tried other treatments with little to no success. It is the only treatment that has provided them with amazing results. Hospitals in China have been using moxibustion for years to strengthen the immune system of patients prior to the invasive treatment of their cancer.
Books pertaining to traditional Chinese medicine ascribe the therapeutic qualities of moxibustion as a way to support and warm the body’s Yang Qi. This elaborates further the ability of moxibustion to open and rechannel the meridians of the body, which can prevent the counterflow of qi, secure yang, disperse nodulations, eliminate swelling, expel dampness and cold, and increase blood flow. This litany of benefits can be a treasure trove of healing, particularly for people who have turned to TCM therapy.
Of course, there will be sceptics that question doubt the effectiveness of moxibustion, in particular, and traditional Chinese medicine or TCM, in general. More obvious proof is required.
Fortunately, some researchers have taken on the responsibility to study the impacts of moxibustion in
controlled environments and evaluated it from the perspective of Western medicine. These research have been undertaken since the early 20th century, and continue to be researched to this day. Majority of these experiments have been carried out in Japan, where moxibustion is very popular. China has also conducted several studies throughout the years. Recently, some Western hospitals and universities in the UK and US, have initiated their own experiments into the healing mechanism brought about by moxibustion. Of special interest is moxibustion’s ability to strengthen immune function and increase the number of white blood cells in the bodies of immunodeficient and cancer patients.
The oldest studies have revealed that moderate to heavy administration of direct moxibustion helped raise the absolute number of leukocytes (white blood cells) in the blood stream. In the treatment of
cancer, the cells that kill tumor cells and other unhealthy cells in the body, the NK or Natural Killer cells, are of greater concern. It has been demonstrated that moxibustion also increases the number of these cells. In addition, it stimulates the activity and release of so-called Heat Shock Proteins, which help denatured proteins to refold. It also hinders protein aggregation, and is key for intracellular repair. This implies that this therapy can enhance the effectiveness and life of these NK cells as well as repair them when they’re injured.
Other research efforts have also shown that moxibustion treatment for patients with cancer is not only used to activate anticancer immunity, it also generates myeloprotective effectS that can reduce the effects of chemotherapy, and boost the quality of life and psycho emotional health of the patient.
Conventional treatments are known to disrupt the innate function of the body; moxibustion can help prevent this harmful effect. The pain caused by cancer, or the standard cancer treatments used, can be extremely adverse to the patient, and very injurious to the physical, mental, and emotional health of the cancer patient. Using moxibustion as treatment for this can lessen the pain, and prevent the cells from further damage resulting in a better quality of life.
Further research shows that emotional states affect the activity of the NK cells. With a better quality of life and lower pain induced by moxibustion therapy, the NK cells can further increase their activity. Moxibustion therapy directly affects the release of beta-endorphins, which increases NK
cell function further as well as the function of interferon and cytokines. Overall, moxibustion seems an obvious choice as a complement treatment to standard cancer therapies.
In another note, moxibustion has for years, been used as a treatment for Tuberculosis. Patients with this very contagious disease suffer from significant immunodeficiency. The inclusion of moxibustion to their treatment plan has led to meaningful benefits. Japanese researchers were the first ones to study the initial treatments. Today, this healing technique has been integrated into TB treatment programs in Africa by several health organizations. Proof of the positive effects of moxibustion for strengthening immune function appears to be growing.
Moxibustion’s Adverse Effects
The smoke and heat generated by moxibustion is a big cause of concern. Research on this issue showed that exposure to heat on the skin led to permanent damage and scarring of the skin. However, the previous studies have shown that blistering moxibustion is not required for the manifested benefits. Only needed to prolong the positive effects is moderate to below exposure and burning temperature. Light moxibustion can duplicate these effects as well, although the results do not last as long at moderate moxibustion.
Smoke from the burning moxa is another problem. Many seem to associate with tobacco smoke. However, during tests, it was shown that moxa smoke has no adverse effects on the lungs. The smoke has fewer pollutants that does not affect the development of the lung membrane. Another research suggests that, compared to other smoked treatments, the smoke from moxibustion causes zero side effects on the Heart.
The conclusion, therefore, is that moxibustion is a safe form of treatment whose benefits include an improvement in overall health and well-being of a person. It boosts the function and amount of NK cells and other leukocytes in the body.
There is pain relief and a protective effect on the body that further promotes the overall health of the patient. When you consider all of this, moxibustion certainly seems to be an excellent complementary treatment to standard cancer treatments. In addition, it can definitely be an ideal therapy and treatment for general maintenance and health.