Moxibustion / Heat Therapy

With the pandemic still gripping our world, everyone is looking for ways to strengthen their immune system. In addition to acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, a method that has been gaining popularity is moxibustion, or Chinese heat therapy. Chinese medicine practitioners use this technique in order to boost how well you can fight off infection and illness. It is incredibly safe and effective when performed by a licensed acupuncturist, or when done at home with care and attention to safety.

Mugwort is the herb used in moxibustion (also called moxa) and it has long served as a traditional herbal remedy. It contains many beneficial compounds such as sesquiterpenoids (responsible for creating strong anti bacterial properties) and volatile oil compounds. In Chinese medicine, mugwort is used to dispel cold and move stagnation. Internally, it is used to stop excessive menstrual bleeding as well as relieve both menstrual and lower abdominal pain.

Moxibustion is a healing technique used for many different purposes, including pain relief and digestive system support. It’s also helpful in fertility treatments or reproductive health issues to name two examples. It is extremely effective at helping people overcome fatigue and debility.  In certain parts of East Asia it is very common that people use moxa at home.

To give you one example of how to use it, moxibustion both in the clinic or at home is often applied to an acupoint on the lower leg called Zusanli or Stomach 36. Moxibustion on this point has been shown to increase white blood cell count, which helps your body fight infection. It also supports immune and digestive system function as well as increases vitality. In my experience, there is nothing more effective to rapidly building energy and vitality than daily moxibustion on Stomach 36.

How to do moxibustion at home

Chris may ask you to do moxibustion at home on a daily basis, when doing it only in clinic is not enough. Please read through these instructions carefully and don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions. Moxibustion is very safe, but you will still need to take care to not burn yourself or start a fire.

Before starting, please prepare the following:

  1. A lighter or candle
  2. A dish to use as an ashtray
  3. A lidded jar with rice or salt in the bottom in which to put out the moxa stick when finished
  4. A small jar of water, in case you drop the hot ash
  5. One drawback with moxibustion is that the smoke is quite pungent. Please open a window when doing it and remove any clothes or objects from the room that may pick up the scent. The scent will dissipate with washing or over time, but it can take a few days. Please note that while smokeless moxa is available, I always recommend using the traditional smoky version, as the therapeutic effect is much stronger.

How to use the moxa stick:

  1. Light the moxa stick with the candle or lighter. It may take a few seconds for this to happen.
  2. Hold the lit end of the moxa stick over the acupoint prescribed by Chris. The stick should never come into contact with the skin.
  3. Move the moxa stick in small circles over the area being treated. When it gets too hot, remove from the area and allow it to cool. Restart once the area has cooled enough.
  4. Apply for 30 mins each day. If the point prescribed is on your arm or leg, alternate left and right each day. If you are using moxa on a torso point, then use it daily.
  5. Please note that while 30 mins is optimum and often necessary for severe cases, for less severe cases, even 5-10 mins daily is very beneficial.
  6. Remove ash as necessary to maintain heat.
  7. When you’ve finished treatment, put the moxa stick out in the jar with salt or rice.

And that’s it! Please just use common sense and be careful. Moxibustion is very safe, but obviously care needs to be taken as we’re dealing with heat and fire.

Because of its pungent smoke, many clinics don’t allow the use of moxa. Chris, however, is able to use it freely at both his Collingwood and Meaford clinics, where he often uses it in conjunction with acupuncture. Please reach out if you have any questions or wish to book a session to see if moxibustion is right for you.