Acupuncture is the primary form of treatment you will receive on my table. However, I also offer additional modalities, depending on the needs of the individual patient. One such modality is a form of heat therapy known as moxibustion. The term is derived from “moxa”, an herb which is made from the dried leafy material of Chinese mugwort, not to be confused with Harry Potter’s alma mater. These dried plant materials are burned on or very near the surface of the skin. The desired result is to warm and invigorate an area of the body to increase circulation as well as to stimulate an acupuncture point.
How does it work?
The moxa material is used in various ways to warm different areas of the body. I use a few different moxa techniques which I will describe below. One technique uses moxa compressed into a stick or pole, which when lit, produces a unique form of very penetrating heat. I use a stainless-steel moxa roller to hold the lit stick which is then rolled on the skin. The lit moxa stick which looks like a giant incense stick warms the metal of the roller which is then rolled on the skin to warm an area. I like to use this technique on stiff knees or sore joints. Another way I use moxa is on top of a needle. The moxa is rolled with a thin paper and placed on top of the needle and lit. The warmth from the moxa is penetrated through the metal of the needle, gently warming an area. I like to this technique on a point for example on the lower abdomen to create warmth. Another moxa technique I like to use, which is very specific to Japanese style acupuncture, is called tiny moxa or rice grain moxa. This technique is a direct type of moxa where small, rice size pieces of moxa are rolled and lit with an incense stick on the surface of the skin. A small dab of shiunko cream, a type of burn cream is placed on the skin which protects your skins when preforming this technique. The pieces of moxa are so small and burn very quickly which heats an acupuncture points very specifically as opposed to a larger area.
Moxibustion tends to increase the effectiveness of acupuncture, and vice versa. There are definitely circumstances where I am more likely to employ it than others. Quite often, clients suffering from pain as the result of an injury, or arthritis, will report feeling better with the application of heat. Anyone susceptible to cold and flu strains seek this treatment for protection. Some report gastrointestinal difficulties, such as irregular elimination. With that diagnosis, the combined treatment of acupuncture and moxibustion is appropriate. For women, serious gynecological and obstetrical conditions might warrant such a session. There have been cases where this method has proven effective with breech presentation in late term pregnancy.
How does it feel?
After you schedule your appointment, but before treatment, we will discuss your unique needs in greater depth. There will certainly be a degree of explanation regarding the specific application of the acupuncture needles using this treatment. Should moxibustion be an option, you can expect a rush of warmth to the area we are working on.
You might imagine that burning dried plant materials would produce a smell. That is a fair assumption but don’t let the smoke or scent confuse you. That lingering odor means your practitioner is burning mugwort and is most likely equipped with good ventilation and an air purification system.