Moxibustion Is More Than A Natural Way To Relieve Acute And Chronic Pain

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 75 percent of overdoses from prescription drugs are due to prescription pain killers.

Since 1999, deaths from overdoses of prescription pain medication have risen 265 percent for men and 400 percent for women.

In 2010, two million people used prescription pain medications for getting high and bought them without a prescription. These statistics are quite alarming for many doctors who have treated lots of patients who were addicted to pain medications due to chronic injuries.

Fortunately, there is a safer way to treat injuries and alleviate pain. It is called moxibustion. This ancient form of Chinese medicine is very safe to use and is slowly gaining popularity in the US.

For people suffering from chronic pain, moxibustion can be a natural way to alleviate pain. It can help ease ailments without the side effects of surgery or drugs. Both patients and doctors find it very useful in the treatment of knee arthritis and low back pain.

Moxibustion involves the burning of a mugwort plant near or on an acupuncture point to stimulate the flow of energy or Qi and increase circulation to relieve pain and accelerate recovery.

Dried leaves of the mugwort herb are grounded into paste form which is called Moxa. This substance is then heated on acupuncture needles or on the skin of the patient.

Uses and Health Benefits of Moxibustion Therapy

Initially used by ancient Chinese medicine practitioners to foster healing and prevent illness, moxibustion is now mostly used by practitioners to relieve pain by boosting the flow of blood to parts of the damaged by injury. It stimulates acupuncture points and balances the flow of Qi (energy) which increases health and heals certain conditions.

By burning the moxa, the practitioner allows the heat to ease stiffness related to arthritis. The heat from the burning moxa has the same effect as that of heating pads or a heat lamp providing a soothing effect whilst improving circulation and relaxing the muscles.

Moxibustion can be used to treat additional conditions including diarrhea, menstrual cramping, and stomach pain. It is used in combination with ginger and other substances. We need to remind you that it is important to look for an experienced practitioner since moxibustion involves the use of fire directly or indirectly to the body which can lead to injuries on the skin.

Direct and Indirect Moxibustion Therapy

Direct moxibustion is rarely used in the US because the moxa is directly burned on the skin, which can potentially lead to a burn injury. However, traditional Chinese practitioners believe that the burn and ensuing scars are indispensible parts of the healing effect.

In indirect moxibustion, the moxa is wrapped into a cigar-like stick called a moxa pole. The stick is burned with a match and is hovered an inch or two away from the skin. The edge of the stick is moved in a small circular motion over the acupuncture point until site of treatment gets warm and a bit red. This process is administered for five to ten minutes which leads to a slow buildup of heat, which enables the healing qualities of the oils and heat to penetrate the skin without burning it. The oils possess blood activating and penetrating qualities independent of the heat from the moxa.

There is also another type of moxibustion procedure that involves the use of acupuncture. In this process, a moxa herb is placed on top of an acupuncture needle and lit while the needle is stuck into an acupoint. This technique helps to bring in heat into a specific point through the needle. Many acupuncturists use this type of treatment in order to relieve pain immediately.

In order to get optimal results, the heat should be focused on a specific acupoint for a certain period of time. While some people experience instantaneous relief, others may only experience relief after undergoing several rounds of treatment.

Moxibustion Therapy – Its Physiological Effects

The heat from the smoldering moxa stimulates the flow of blood and Chi, relieves pain and increases warmth in the body resulting in good overall health.

According to Chinese practitioners the heat from the burning moxa adds a specific frequency of infrared energy that augments Chi that the body needs to heal. They also believe the immune system and metabolism of the body can be enhanced by the application of indirect heat to some of the important acupoints.

Relief of Pain through Moxibustion

Moxibustion therapy works well for all sorts of injuries. It can be administered once the swelling and inflammation subsides which is usually after the acute phase of an injury. Some practitioners have had good success in curing tendon and muscular injuries, knee arthritis, joint pain, and back pain by combining acupuncture with moxibustion.

It can also with menstrual cramps and muscle stiffness. Moxibustion also works well with cupping therapy and acupressure massage.

Moxibustion can be used to:

  • Warm injured areas that are cold to touch which is often the case for chronic injuries in which pain gets worse during damp or cold weather
  • Eliminate congestion and blockages caused by the buildup of fluids and blood after an injury
  • Lessen stiffness, pain, and swelling

Important Things to Consider

In indirect moxibustion as long as the hot elements are safely handled in a controlled setting, this method is considered safe to use. To shield the skin from the fire and prevent burns and injuries, place a small slice of ginger on the skin.

Moxibustion should not be given if:

  • You have hypersensitive skin or if you suffer from diabetic neuropathy
  • You have skin ulcerations or open lesions
  •  If you are pregnant, avoid having moxibustion on your lower back or stomach area
  • If have active heat, redness, and inflammation
  •  If you have a fever

If you are sensitive to smoke or suffer from a certain respiratory condition, you can request your doctor to use smokeless moxa sticks on your treatment.

Tracey R. Walker, L. Ac, MSOM – Board Certified Acupuncturist and Herbalist in Pueblo, CO

Kidney Disease and Moxibustion

Moxibustion is a treatment modality of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Boynton Beach that utilizes a burning stick or cone of moxa which is applied over or on specific acupoints. It is sometimes used alongside acupuncture treatment. A natural form of treatment, moxibustion involves the burning of a mugwort plant to promote healing. As with all types of traditional Chinese medicine techniques, the aim of moxibustion is to, maintain overall well being and health of the body by stimulating the flow of vital energy (chi) and to strengthen the blood.

Kidney Disease and Moxibustion

Almost all Kidney conditions are functional disorders and chronic conditions. Patients with chronic disease have a cold or stagnant underlying condition, based on the theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine. This even applies to patients who seem to be manifesting heat, but actually suffer from an underlying chronic cold within their system that brings about the heat-syndrome-like symptoms which are body responses to counter the chronic cold as an attempt to balance the body.

Moxibustion is used to warm the energy channels or meridians and to remove the cold in the body. This can lead to a smoother circulation of chi and blood. When used in patients with kidney disease, moxibustion, by and large, can help strengthen the immune system of the patient and give the damage tissue and kidneys a better internal environment to self-heal and improve.

Aside from treating kidney disease, a few other uses of moxibustion include the treatment of bad mood, weak immunity, pain, fatigue, and high blood pressure.

What are the Types of Moxibustion?

There are two types of moxibustion therapy: Indirect Moxibustion and Direct Moxibustion.

Indirect Moxibustion

This procedure applies burning moxa either on top of an acupuncture needle or just above the skin. This is the most common form of moxibustion used in the States because it rarely causes injury to the patient.

Direct Moxibustion

In direct moxibustion, the moxa is usually burned on the acupuncture point itself. A moxa cone or stick is placed directly on the skin.

It usually leaves scars on the patient’s skin and is obviously a painful procedure. Direct Moxibustion is further classified into two forms– non-scarring and scarring. In non-scaring direct moxibustion, the moxa is placed on the point and lit, but before it burns the skin it is removed. Patients usually experience a warm relaxing sensation that deeply penetrates deep into the skin. Unless the burning moxa is left in place for too long, this technique should not cause any scarring, blistering and/or pain.

In the scarring technique, the moxa is allowed to burn itself out completely on the acupoint after it is applied and lit. This technique usually leads to local blistering after the treatment site has healed.

Side effects:

When you choose direct moxibustion therapy, expect to feel pain during and after treatment and some blistering on your skin after healing. If taken internally, essential oils from wormwood and mugwort can result in adverse reactions; however, when they’re applied to the skin, their side effects are much lower.

Moxibustion is also contraindicated for people with diabetes.

Considerations

Moxibustion is considered a safe and viable treatment for people with chronic conditions. However, it is not for everyone. It is especially effective for people with stagnant or cold conditions but it won’t work and may even be harmful for people diagnosed with excessive heat in their bodies.

You should not get moxibustion if are suffering from respiratory infections or other related conditions. This is because the treatment tends to generate lots of odor and smoke that can be harmful for those with respiratory problems.

Moxibustion To Eliminate The Symptoms And Underlying Cause of Frozen Shoulder

As clinical studies have confirmed, a combination of moxibustion and acupuncture treatment for Frozen Shoulder works extremely well and many people are curious as to how the treatment actually achieves this. In their western medical viewpoint, modern medical doctors are actually at a loss as to what exactly causes frozen shoulder and if they don’t how the condition arises, their modes of treatment are practically ineffective. Frozen shoulder’s most intriguing aspect is that the sufferer usually has no history of injury. This has made researchers pause to believe that its cause may be due to an auto immune problem. However the researchers still don’t know why the problem tends correct itself after 1½ years or so without requiring any medical intervention.

Over a thousand years ago, classical Chinese medicine texts have described frozen shoulder and its symptoms. This disorder was called by various names, including “Old Woman’s Shoulder” or ‘100 Years old shoulder”.

It’s interesting to note that statistics gathered by western medical researchers reveal that women tend to be more affected by frozen shoulder than men. This was also observed by ancient Chinese physicians hundreds of years ago. Actually, treatment of this condition in women is different to men. Unlike Western conventional medicine, Chinese medicine does not follow the “one size fits all” approach in which steroid shots are the standard for both male or female, and young and old alike.

The aim of Boynton Beach acupuncturists in treating frozen shoulder is to bring back harmony to the yin and yang forces of the body. In Chinese medicine, frozen shoulder is essentially a problem in the balance between yin and yang. Western medical studies have actually supported the traditional Chinese medicine perspective of frozen shoulder.

Western medical doctors have observed that their patients during cold weather report their shoulder pain gets worse. This is especially true when the weather changes to extreme cold all of a sudden. Frozen shoulder, according to Chinese medicine, is the result of external cold weather piercing through the shoulder joint and building up there eventually “freezing” up the joint.

This condition, according to Western medicine, is due to a lack of synovial fluid that lubricates the shoulder blade and upper arm. This is congruent to Chinese medicine theory stating that the watery yin fluids have either dried up or become depleted brought about by a history of flu and fever.

Frozen shoulder pain also tends to get worse at night. In Chinese medicine, this may be due to a blood and energy flow blockage that escalates at night due to inactivity and sleeping.

Western medicine treatments for frozen shoulder include regular moving and stretching exercises. In Chinese medicine, practitioners simply go about rectifying the obvious: eliminating the build-up of cold with moxibustion heat therapy.

In moxibustion therapy, yu zhu and other yin moistening Chinese herbs and fluid building acupoints are used to nourish the yin fluids.

Acupoints that are known to boost blood flow and mobilize energy are used to expel the blockage that causes the increased pain at night. Cupping is specifically used to In particular cupping is used enhance the circulation of blood.

Additional acupoints are used for women suffering from frozen shoulder to benefit and normalize their hormone system. To further accelerate healing and increase mobilization, Tui Na massage may also be used.