What is moxa?
Moxibustion refers to a type of external heat therapy in which a dried and processed herb, Artemisia vulgaris (i.e. moxa), is burned either directly or indirectly over acupoints or meridians on the skin. The herb, known as 艾葉 (Ai Ye) or mugwort leaf, can also be used internally in Chinese medicine herbal formulas. Moxa is a common adjunct to acupuncture; and while they often complement each other’s action, sometimes moxa treatment by itself can be even more effective.
What is moxa’s therapeutic function?
The heat produced by burning Ai Ye warms the qi and Blood in the channels, and is used to both treat disease and maintain vitality. Additionally, the burned herb can expel Cold and Dampness. Moxa is therefore commonly used to remedy chronic, weakened conditions and to reduce pain and increase range of motion when cold and damp have blocked the channels.
What is moxa effective at treating?
In Chinese medicine, moxibustion is used to treat cold conditions. While small sample size in randomized-controlled trials often presents a challenge to producing firm conclusions, favorable effects of moxibustion treatment have been reported in systematic review and meta-analysis of the following conditions:
- Cancer-related fatigue
- Chemotherapy-induced leukopenia
- Correcting breech presentation
- Essential hypertension (at acupoint, K1)
- Exercise-induced fatigue
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Rheumatic conditions (plus drug therapy)
How do I know if moxa is appropriate for my condition?
The best way to know if moxa could be helpful in addressing your concerns would be to get a differential diagnosis, provided by an acupuncturist or Chinese herbalist. Moxibustion is not appropriate for patients with febrile disease or over the low back/abdomen in women during pregnancy.
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