Moxibustion Treatment in NYC
Also known as moxa, moxibustion is the process of burning a root called mugwort sage (artemisia vulgaris) burned at or above certain acupuncture points to elicit a therapeutic effect. It is a treatment strategy under the umbrella of traditional Chinese medicine, which also includes interventions such as acupuncture, Tuina/massage, auricular acupuncture, and acupressure. It is a simple technique that involves no pain. The effectiveness of moxibustion is two-fold: the body responds physiologically to heat stimulation generated by burning moxa, and also responds to the chemical components in mugwort leaves. Moxa is used extensively in China and a bit in the United States, but it receives far less attention than acupuncture.
Moxa Science for Pain
According to scholar Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D., “the original Chinese term for what we call acupuncture is zhenjiu, which refers to both needling (zhen) and moxibustion (jiu), two techniques understood to be essential parts of one fundamental approach to treating disease and maintaining health. Nonetheless, compared to acupuncture, moxibustion is usually deemed a secondary practice”. The benefits of moxibustion for menstrual pain are clear. A 2017 clinical trial concluded that moxibustion therapy can be as effective as conventional drugs for menstrual pain relief. The study showed that serum levels of pain mediators, such as prostaglandins, were significantly improved after both types of treatment. What’s interesting to note is that the effectiveness of moxibustion (specifically on pain intensity and duration of pain) lasted for three months after treatment, and was superior to the drug’s effect.
The History of Moxa
As mentioned, Moxa is traditionally practiced in China, Japan, Nepal, Mongolia, and Vietnam. Its practice predates acupuncture and has been around since at least 200 or 300 BC (Cheng & Deng, 2010). Ancient literature refers to moxa’s use in preventing illness and promoting health. It is said that moxa on an acupuncture point called Zu San Li (ST-36) promotes longevity. A famous Japanese physician, Dr. Shimetaro Hara, attributed his long life to the regular use of moxa on Zu San Li. He lived until the age of 108.
Moxa with Naturna: An Evidence Based Practice
Here at Naturna, we focus on evidence-based practice, even with Traditional Chinese Medicine! Modern clinical research shows that moxa therapy may be able to: produce analgesic effect, Inhibit spread of infection, have anti-inflammatory effects, balance the autonomic nervous system and promote parasympathetic response, promote recovery from fatigue, boost immune response without exacerbating auto-immune issues. With that research in mind, here are a few things that we commonly use moxa therapy for: fertility, irregular menstruation, menstrual cramps, general pain, immunity, fatigue, allergies, digestive disturbance, and breech presentation. A moxa treatment is not only powerful, it is also very relaxing. Given all these amazing benefits, you can see why we often incorporate moxa as part of our acupuncture treatments. There are so many other benefits to moxibustion—such as turning a breech baby and treating inflammatory bowel conditions—that we can’t possibly go into all the details today. Needless to say, moxibustion is a simple, non-invasive, and gentle modality that often facilitates calm and relaxation.
Moxa comes in different shapes and sizes. Most commonly, dried moxa is rolled tightly into a cigar-like stick, but it can come in loose, smokeless or cone forms. At Naturna, we use moxa sticks that resemble black chalk, and burn the herb near certain points on your body to enhance the effects of the acupuncture. It provides a warming sensation that most patients find very relaxing. Moxibustion is used to stimulate the blood flow at certain acupoints, and its warming and calming effects have a great impact. Moxibustion is frequently used here, and is also extremely effective for turning babies in breech presentation! Moxa can be applied through direct or indirect methods. In the United States, indirect moxa, over the skin, or on top of an Acupuncture needle is the most common therapy. Because moxa is believed to help stimulate qi and blood circulation, promote warmth and expel cold in the body, moxibustion is recommended in conditions such as pain, digestive, and menstrual cramps caused by cold conditions. Herbs are an important part of traditional Chinese medicine. As herb material (chopped moxa wood) is burned, there is a sweet, pungent smell that comes with moxibustion treatment. Depending on your needs, moxibustion can be used alone or in conjunction with other treatments.