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Moxibustion description

 
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Healing with herbs. Moxibustion is a traditional Chinese medicine technique closely related to, and often performed as part of, acupuncture. It’s a 2000 year old therapy involving burning the herb Mugwort over acu-points to accentuate the effects of acupuncture and rebalance your all-important qi (which is pronounced Chi, of course).

How does it work?

Moxibustion is broken down into a few more categories and the treatment you’ll get will vary greatly depending on which one you choose, so make sure you don’t get confused – we wouldn’t want you to end up surprised.

Direct moxibustion involves a small amount of moxa (the herb) being placed directly on an acupuncture point and ignited. You’ve then got two further categories to choose between – scarring and non-scarring (you see why we didn’t want you to get confused?!). With scarring moxibustion, the herb is left on the acu-point until it burns out completely, leaving blisters or marks on the skin. This method isn’t used very often anymore, for obvious reasons - but it’s worth bearing in mind that it still exists. In non-scarring moxibustion the moxa is still burnt directly on the point, but is removed before it leaves a mark.

Indirect moxibustion involves the practitioner lighting a cigar-shaped moxa stick and holding it close to the point until the skin turns slightly red, or the tip of an acupuncture needle may be wrapped in moxa and ignited.

Is it for me?

Moxibustion has been used in connection with:

  • digestive disorders
  • stress-related problems, including depression
  • gynaecological problems
  • musculo-skeletal problem, including sports injuries
  • problems that worsen with cold
  • colds and flu
  • problems with breech babies prior to childbirth

There are a few rules to remember if you’re considering moxibustion. It’s not suitable for anyone with diabetes, and if you are pregnant you should definitely consult your doctor before undergoing any treatment. The burning of the moxa also a lot of smoke (although you may be able ask for smokeless sticks to be used) and the mugwort may cause toxic reactions if it’s taken internally. If you have eczema or sensitive skin, it’s best to check with the practitioner first whether you’ll be able to receive treatment.

Good to know

Early in the twentieth century, moxibustion was used to treat TB and cholera.

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