Moxibustion therapy may not be among the best-known alternative remedies, but it has similar origins to more familiar treatment such as acupuncture and acupressure, which it is often used alongside. It is based on the ancient Chinese concept of qi, or life force, and traditionally focuses on ensuring this energy can flow freely through the body. Common uses include as pain relief, and in the management of pregnancy-related issues.
Origins of Moxibustion Therapy
You can find moxibustion therapy not just in China, but throughout East Asia. Japan, Korea, Vietnam and Mongolia are just some of the countries where this traditional medicine is highly popular, though it goes by different names. Moxibustion has a history stretching back thousands of years, though Europeans did not really become aware of it until the 1600s. Its exact origins are shrouded in myth, with some stories even connecting it to the legendary emperor Dangun, founder of Korea. Written documentation of moxibustion dates back as far as 500 BCE, and it was referenced by the infamous Chinese doctor Bian Que.
How it works?
Moxa is a type of herb, also known as mugwort. Moxibustion involves burning this herb, then applying it to the relevant part of the body (as acupuncture needles are placed at certain pressure points along the “meridians” where qi is meant to flow). Direct moxibustion is when the burning herb is applied straight onto the skin, though gently and at a low temperature for safety.
Indirect moxibustion (called kyotoshin in Japan) combines moxibustion with acupuncture. Acupuncture needles are inserted into the pressure point as normal, then moxa is burned at the other end of the needle. Experts have suggested that the potential medical benefits of moxibustion may work by stimulating blood flow, triggering changes in your hormone levels and causing the muscles to relax.
Uses of Moxibustion
It is certainly important to ensure that you only seek treatment from a trained and experienced practitioner. At Blue Tortoise, we are subject to stringent regulatory control from the authorities here in Ontario. If managed professionally, moxibustion is an entirely safe and enduringly popular treatment for a wide range of conditions. These include chronic pain such as from arthritis or migraines, as well as gastrointestinal problems ranging from indigestion to IBS. Many of these conditions can be debilitating for the sufferer and modern pharmacological solutions can, in some cases, present longer-term issues. Moxibustion also has a warming effect that helps fight colds and flu. One of its most prominent uses is in attempting to turn breech babies so that the pregnancy is safer for both mother and child.
The use of moxibustion to treat chronic pain and other conditions is a tradition going back millennia. It has spread from its home in East Asia to become popular around the world as an alternative to modern medicine. When practised safely, burning moxa could potentially stimulate your blood flow as well as your qi, causing your whole body to relax and overall health to improve.