A therapy involving heat stimulation of the acupuncture points of the body, moxibustion can be an optional treatment for healing back pain. It is one of the branches of traditional Chinese medicine that boosts the flow of blood on or near the acupuncture points.
Moxibustion entails the burning of an herb known as Mugwort. The effect of the heat from the burning herb helps to eliminate the buildup of dampness and cold in the body making the flow of blood stronger and smoother thereby restoring the health and well being of the body. Moxibustion is an ancient treatment with origins dating as far back as the Stone Age. It has been used to treat a variety of problems that typically occurs during cold weather: pain, arthritis, and diarrhea. The practice slowly came into being after ancient man’s discovery and use of fire. Primitive people are believed to have utilized burnt stones to treat pain and illnesses via localized “hot compressions”.
Eventually healers improved the procedure by burning plants or branches using it to warm the ailing areas of the body, thus giving rise to the kind of moxibustion we know and use today.
Practitioners in China during the Western Zhou Dynasty (c. 11th century-711 BC), relied on the mugwort plant which became the standard plant used in moxibustion therapy.
Today, mugwort come in the form of cones, and smokeless and compressed sticks. Chinese medicine uses mugwort because it has bitter, positive, and warm qualities that work well in the body especially when combined with other herbal prescriptions.
Chinese doctors and practitioners use moxibustion to treat common conditions like the flu and cold. The heat expels dampness and algidity and warms the energy channels of the body. It is sometimes used in combination with or in lieu of acupuncture depending on the patient’s constitution, needs, and preferences.
There are two types of moxibustion therapy: one type is known as the direct treatment in which a burning small cone-shaped moxa is placed on the affected acupuncture point of the patient. Direct moxibustion is further divided into two methods: non-scarring and scarring.
In the non-scarring treatment, the burning moxa is placed on the acupuncture point but is removed or extinguished before the flame dies out. Unless the moxa is left on the body for too long, the patient should feel a soothing heat sensation that goes deep into the skin, without any scarring, blistering, or pain. This technique is used to treat certain cold-related conditions.
Because it has a lower risk of pain, the indirect treatment is a more commonly used method. It is administered on muscle groups and other larger areas of the body. Practitioners use it to treat child patients. Substances such as garlic slices, salt, or ginger are used to shield the skin from the smoldering moxa.
In the scarring technique moxibustion, the lighted moxa is placed directly on an acupuncture point, and remains there until the herb is completely consumed by the fire. This process causes localized blisters and scarring, which eventually heals five to six weeks after the treatment. Chinese medicine doctors and practitioners in Overland Park believe the scarring type can be an ideal treatment for chronic diseases such as tuberculosis and asthma.
One other unique type of moxibustion entails the burning of a cigar-like moxa stick which the practitioner holds very near the affected body area until it reddens.
Many practitioners combine indirect moxibustion treatment with acupuncture. This technique uses a needle that is stuck into an acupuncture point and retained. Then the top of the needle is wrapped in moxa and lit up, creating heat to the point and the surrounding area. After the required effects are attained, the fire is then extinguished and the needles taken out.
While moxibustion therapy is commonly used to treat diarrhea and chronic fatigue, some people also rely on the therapy for the treatment of their arthritic conditions, especially joint pain when the condition get worse in damp or cold weather.
Moxibustion therapy follows the theory of traditional Chinese medicine, which states that pathways or collaterals and meridians form the blood circulation and the flow of qi, integral components of a specific network that communicates with the limbs and internal organs and connects the upper regions to the lower part of the body.
Moxibustion is mainly used to treat stagnant and cold underlying conditions. It helps strengthen the immune system and treats cold hands and feet as well as chronic fatigue and chronic low energy. Painful ailments where moxibustion work quite well include muscle pain and menstrual cramps.
You can perform moxibustion from the comfort of your home and the moxa sticks used in this ancient healing modality are widely available and very easy to use.