TCM Treatments Series: Moxibustion
Moxibustion is a complementary therapy to acupuncture. The moxa used in this treatment is made with dried mugwort (艾叶) and this is burned to heat up areas along acupuncture points. In Chinese, this treatment is called jiǔ ( 灸) or jiǔshù ( 灸術). The most commonly practiced form of moxibustion today is indirect moxibustion, in which a moxa stick (or moxi cigar) is held near the acupoint or placed on an acupuncture needle. Sometimes moxa is placed on top of ginger slices (other versions use garlic or salt).
What does moxibustion treat?
The treatment helps to disperse cold wind stagnation, involved in anything from menstrual pain to colds. The warmth of the moxa along the meridian points stimulates blood flow and promotes smoother flow of qi. It has also been used as a natural remedy to help turn babies in breech position in the mother’s womb. A 1998 study published in the Journal of American Medical Association found that up to 75% of women with fetuses in a breech position experienced rotation of the fetus after receiving moxibustion on the bladder meridian.
As with cupping, moxibustion may be a useful complementary therapy to acupuncture and other TCM treatments. Moxibustion poses some logistical problems for modern practitioners, since it results in smoke and puts off a certain smell. For this reason, it may also be contraindicated for patients with respiratory difficulties such as asthma. Make sure to find out whether moxibustion is right for you from a qualified TCM doctor who does a comprehensive evaluation and is experienced with this treatment.
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