Moxibustion – Heat therapy with moxa in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM)
Moxa therapy or heat therapy is a healing method in traditional Chinese medicine. Moxibustion involves a holistic, effective therapy that can be used to treat a variety of ailments and that has proven its worth in the treatment of illnesses, especially "cold syndromes", over a long period of time. This treatment method is one of the oldest practices in Chinese medicine.
The heat generated from the burning of mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) is used to mobilise the self-healing powers of the body. The objective is to restore the internal energy equilibrium between yin and yang, or "qi", which is disrupted in illnesses. Moxibustion is especially used in the treatment of illnesses that are yin in nature and illnesses caused by cold and dampness, but also degenerative diseases such as chronic bronchitis, chronic asthma, depression and fatigue conditions.
Application of moxa therapy
Moxa can both be used at acupuncture points and at sites, for example, where major pain is located. Moxa can therefore be applied independently of meridians and acupuncture points not only selectively, but also over an extensive area, such as over joints or on reflex zones of internal organs.
Examples of moxa
Difference techniques are used for moxa, such as:
- A moxa stick or cigar is brought into the proximity of the area to be treated without skin contact to heat this area.
- A moxa cone is stuck onto an acupuncture needle: in doing so the heat is transferred to the needle, thereby heating the acupuncture point.
- A small moxa cone or hand-formed moxa bead, also referred to as "rice grain moxa" made of loose mugwort, is used on the skin with or without a separating layer. A typical product for this is adhesive moxa.
Mugwort - Qualities and properties
The herb used in moxa is produced from the leaves of the mugwort plant (Artemisia vulgaris). The leaves are cut before the flowering period, dried and processed into moxa wool. The quality of the mugwort depends crucially on its processing, but also on the duration of storage. When stored for a longer period of time, essential oils escape, making the aroma during burning milder. Less good mugwort contains remnants of stems and leaves, while particularly high-quality moxa is conversely very uniform and delicately woolly. During burning, the delicate woollen quality emits a gentle warmth, while a coarse quality develops an intense heat and the uneven consistency can lead to undesirable changes in the heat intensity.
A special form of moxa is moxa coal, an extremely low-smoke moxa made of mugwort produced under oxygen-free conditions in the same manner as coal. During burning, this moxa emits very little smoke and a diminished aroma.
Other types of moxibustion
Alongside traditional mugwort moxa herb, electric moxa devices and TDP lamps are also used nowadays. In the case of electric moxa devices, heat is generated by a filament and directly or indirectly radiated onto the area to be treated. TDP lamps (short for "Teding Diancibo Pu", which is Chinese for "special electromagnetic spectrum") or moxa lamps generate a long-wave infrared light, which is perceived as pleasantly warming and is also suitable for heat therapy.
Heat pads or heating patches from Thermacura or Herbachaud, for example, are easy-to-use alternatives to traditional moxibustion. These moxa pads or patches give off heat for several hours and can thereby alleviate pain.
Moxa products at Acupunctureworld
At acupuntureworld, you can purchase the following moxa products online:
- Loose mugwort
- Needle moxa
- Adhesive moxa
- Moxa cigars
- Moxa coal/low-smoke moxa
- Moxa patches and heating patches
- Moxa devices and TDP lamps
The content of this article should not be construed as medical advice and is not a substitute for the recommendations of a medical professional. If you have any specific questions, please contact your doctor or alternative medicine practitioner.