If you’re an acupuncture aficionado, you’ve probably been treated to moxibustion during one of your sessions… and if not, you’re missing out on a highly effective therapy. Moxibustion is an ancient healing technique used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to stimulate blood flow, remove blockages that could be causing pain and disease, and strengthen your overall immunity. Indirect moxibustion—the use of cigar-like moxa sticks to deliver non-contact heat therapy—is not only safer than direct moxibustion (when an acupuncturist burns a small, cone-shaped amount of moxa directly on skin) but is also a do-it-yourself, at-home method of healing. Spend at least 5-minutes with a moxa stick, and you can speed the healing of sprains and traumas, colds and cramps…even digestive ailments!
Melt Away Pain with Moxa Sticks
Moxa sticks are cigar-like rolls filled with mugwort herb, an all-star healing agent used for thousands of years in folk medicine. Research confirms that mugwort increases blood flow, especially in the pelvic area, which is why mugwort is commonly used to stimulate menstruation and ease menstrual cramps.
According to TCM, blocked chi—which is the energy, or life force, that moves through your body—instigates all manner of mental and physical illness. Unblocking this chi so it flows freely is the foundation of TCM healing.
Because it stimulates blood flow and eliminates cold and damp within the body, moxibustion promotes optimal organ function. Applying heat therapy in the form of moxabustion treats:
- Arthritis pain
- Muscle pain and stiffness
- Colds and congestion
- Digestive upset
- Headaches and migraines
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association even showed that moxibustion turned 75% of breech babies into a normal head-down position before birth.
How to Use a Moxa Stick
You’re playing with fire when you use a moxa stick, so it’s important to follow these guidelines carefully.
Step 1: Light one end of the moxa stick using a lighter or candle. It may take a bit for the moxa to catch the flame. Test to see if you’ve lit the stick correctly by holding the lit end two to three centimeters from the back of your hand. You should feel a pleasant warmth.
Step 2: Hold the lit end two to three centimeters above the area you wish to treat. If you have an ankle injury, for instance, you’d apply heat to the ankle for 5 to 10 minutes. Move the moxa stick slowly over the area, being sure to maintain as close a distance as possible while avoiding direct contact with skin. Every person’s tolerance to the heat is different.
If you are treating a larger area, use the same method, but expand out in a circular motion. For instance, if you are treating the lungs for congestion, flu, or allergies, move the moxa stick in slow circles across the lungs.
Note: Ash will fall, so make sure you have a towel and ceramic or glass dish handy to catch the ashes and house the moxa stick when needed.
Step 3: Once you’ve bathed your specific ailment in heat, extinguish the moxa stick in a glass jar. Seal the jar tightly so that no oxygen enters and the moxa stick can no longer burn. You can also wrap the end of the moxa stick in tinfoil. Both methods allow you to save the moxa stick for future use.
A word of caution: Traditional moxa sticks come with a poignant odor (reminscent of marijuana) and a lot of smoke. If you are smoke sensitive, or suffer from an upper respiratory condition, use smokeless moxa sticks to reduce odor and smoke fumes.