Moxa therapy or moxibustion has been used alongside acupuncture for 3 thousand years. It is the burning of the dried plant mugwort. (artemisia vulgaris) and can be found in many forms, from moxa “wool” to moxa pressed into a charcoal stick.
Moxa is used to strengthen the immune system, to warm the body and to bring more qi and blood flow to an area. Moxa is especially useful for the treatment of pain.
Moxa is used both directly and indirectly, depending upon the intended effects. It is used to great effect in tandem with acupuncture points, enhancing and maximizing the effects of the acupuncture needles. In this case a small ball is rolled and place on the head an acupuncture needle and ignited. It burns for about 20-30 seconds until it extinguishes. This is repeated for a prescribed number of times.
Another method you may come across is the use of moxa with salt or ginger. A cone of moxa is placed on the umbilicus (belly button) over a thin layer of salt. The moxa is then lit, slowly and evenly generating heat. The salt diffuses the warmth, as well as preventing the heat from causing burns to the skin. Moxa therapy usually takes around 10-30 minutes, depending on the number of moxa cones used in the session. It is a comfortable sensation and usually very relaxing.
Moxa also comes in the form of charcoal sticks of various sizes. A practitioner lights one end of a moxa stick, and moves it slowly over the area being treated. You may also come across moxa pressed into short towers (~1 cm) that can be placed on acupoints with an adhesive barrier.
No matter which form of moxa therapy is used, precautions are always taken to protect the body and prevent burning the skin.
There is a small inconvenience associated with moxa therapy: the smoke and odor. Our clinics are well equipped with a good ventilation and air purification systems so this is not a big problem however the lingering odor produced from burning mugwort unfortunately smells somewhat like marijuana. Most TCM practitioners in the United States place small signs around their office to inform guests about the true nature of the odor that they may be noticing.
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6949 Charlotte Pike, Suite 206
Nashville, TN 37209