What is Moxa And Why Do We Use It?

This week I have used moxa in my clinic every day, on each occasion for a different reason. I love moxa. And so do my patients!

Moxibustion is an essential part of Chinese medicine which uses moxa, a soft woolly substance prepared from mugwort leaves (Artemisia vulgaris). In moxibustion the moxa is placed either directly on the skin or held just above it, over specific acupuncture points or meridians. The herb is lit and as it smoulders slowly, a therapeutic heat permeates the skin and affects the flow of “qi” (energy) and blood in the area being treated.

We choose to use the smokeless sticks as using a stick gives us more control over where we are directing the moxa over the skin, with less risk of smouldering ash falling on the patient. We also give moxa sticks to patients to use at home, so they continue to reap its benefits, with careful instruction on its use.

We predominantly use moxa in our clinic to:
*Turn breech babies (research studies suggest using moxa around 35 weeks in pregnancy may have between a 40-70% success rate of turning a breech presentation, thereby saving the woman from a C section).
*To alleviate pain and improve mobility. We particularly love moxa with patients with painful conditions such as arthritis, raynauds, back pain. In fact many of our arthritic patients, once they have had their initial course of treatment, often only need a a one off session with moxa to give them another 6-12 months pain-free!
*Give energy a boost. For those with fatigue and exhaustion, moxa on selected points, makes them feel a whole lot perkier for a while.
*Stopping bleeding in early pregnancy.Burning moxa over one acu point on the foot can stop bleeding. Many women we treat have been trying to conceive for a while, or have had miscarriages. Any type of bleeding in early pregnancy, understandably, sends their anxiety sky high. Usually a bleed is just pink in wiping, or small spotting, and this is unexplained. Occasionally, at an early scan, a small clot can be picked up which explains it. But whatever the reason, moxa has a great record of stopping the bleeding, which makes for a calmer, more relaxed experience in early pregnancy.

I have to explain when using moxa, that although I choose to use smokeless moxa sticks, there is still an odd smell that it gives. When we are using the moxa, people will say they like the smell. And they love the feel of moxa! It feels very nurturing and therapeutic, almost comforting, when it is held over the skin. The smell remains in the room for a few hours afterwards, so I also have to remember to tell all the patients whom follow what the smell is. Otherwise, people are left wondering why I smell like a bonfire, why it smells like someone may have been smoking in clinic, or at worse, that it smells like illicit drug use has occurred on the premises!

So when you come for acupuncture, it may be more than just the needles that you get from us!

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