Some may already know vaguely what moxibustion is- the burning or heating of herbs that may accompany acupuncture. But as you may have guessed, there is a lot more to it than that. In this article, we’ll be exploring its healing powers, what it can be used to treat, as well as a brief history of moxa.
If you’ve never been to an acupuncture clinic, then you may be foreign to the distinct smoky herbal odor that is moxa. Some people love it, some are impartial.
So, what exactly is moxa?
Moxa is an herb called mugwort and is sometimes even an invasive weed that can grow in a multitude of climates, including North Carolina. It has been around for a long time and has not just been used in Chinese medicine. In fact, it is believed that the Romans planted mugwort along roads to make it readily available to travelers to put in their shoes to help both relieve their aching feet and help to protect them from exhaustion.
What Can Moxa Help?
Mugwort’s botanical name, Artemisia vulgaris, is named after the Greek moon goddess Artemis who was a patron of women. It may be no coincidence then, that it is an excellent herb for various gynecological conditions. In Chinese Herbal Medicine, mugwort is used to treat heavy menstrual and uterine bleeding, as well as increasing blood circulation to the pelvic region to help treat menstrual cramps and pain.
Moxibustion has even been used successfully to turn breech babies into the normal and proper head-down position before childbirth. Although these are common ways moxa (or mugwort) is used, there are plenty more if you read on!
How Moxibustion Works.
The application of heat to any part of the body helps to increase the flow of blood to that area. Heat lamps, heating pads, or other warming devices can give a similar effect to moxibustion, but without the added healing properties that mugwort provides.
The properties of Mugwort are spicy and acrid. These properties are warming and moving and are very helpful to increase circulation to an area with pain. Borneol is one of the active components found in mugwort and is commonly used in topical therapies due to its analgesic effects.
When is Moxibustion Used?
Moxibustion can be used for several different reasons- it can help to prevent diseases, maintain health, and strengthen the immune system. As previously mentioned, it is also used to promote circulation for areas with chronic pain and/or muscle tension. It is found to be especially helpful when used for pain that worsens with cold or damp weather (like some kinds of arthritis pain).
When applied to acupuncture points, moxibustion not only strengthens your immune system, but helps with fatigue, digestive problems and issues, and many more.
Although there are a great number of instances that moxibustion can be helpful, there are times when it should be avoided. Simply talk with your acupuncturist and see if mugwort can benefit you!