What is Wormwood?One widely used herb during moxibustion is wormwood (artemisia absinthium). Wormwood is recognized as having been used for centuries by Chinese herbalists to treat gastrointestinal issues such as indigestion and irregular menstruation as it stimulates the uterus.
Wormwood is a plant that grows above the ground. Wormwood has a warming effect and treatment with the herb enhances healing when used in conjunction with acupuncture.
Wormwood boosts one's immune system, heats meridians, and disperses cold qi to help restore balance and health. That is why wormwood is a popular and effective herb to treat diseases, partially for the cold seasons. Both moxa cones and sticks can be made of dried wormwood leaves.
How To Perform Moxibustion?Experienced practitioners apply moxa cones directly resting on the skin, depending on the particular area of the treatment. In indirect moxibustion, an acupuncturist burns a moxa stick and holds it at a distance above the body surface to warm the treated area.
The therapist may place the moxa on acupuncture needles and heat them—once the leaves are burnt and extinguished, the heat of the moxa transfers onto the acupuncture needles.
A Complete Guide on MoxibustionIn some countries, it might not be easy to find moxibustion acupuncturists, but there is a solution. You can do it yourself in a safe environment, as it involves burning the Chinese wormwood leaves.
Choose good quality moxa sticks.Moxa or wormwood sticks used for moxibustion therapy are dried wormwood leaves crunched and rolled into stick forms. Good quality moxa depends on several factors, such as appearance and touch.
Check the texture. Good quality wormwood should be soft and winding but not sticky. On the other hand, poor-quality moxa is scratchy, uneven, rough to the touch, and ashy. The color should be solid yellowish-green in a tight bunch. Like a fine wine, the older the age of the wormwood, the better the quality. The golden standard of aged moxa is three years or more.
Freehand moxibustion therapy is better. The longer the session, the practitioner or person performing the moxibustion might be unable to keep hands steady for an extended period. So more straightforward equipment is preferred. Not only will it be more accessible to maneuver, but it will also reduce accidental burns.
Three Standard Moxibustion Devices1. Wooden moxibustion box
Suitable for use on the abdomen and back. The elastic band of the box stabilizes the positions where the moxibustion is performed.
Once lit, stabilize the strip in the box. The bottom of the box is structured like an iron screen to keep the burning strip working. The ash from the strip is harmless.
During the therapy, the acupuncturist will regularly adjust the strip's height to achieve a consistent temperature. Generally, a sizable moxibustion device with a long moxa strip can burn for 30 minutes.
This device is suitable for performing moxibustion on the limbs. You can fix the moxa strip directly into the gourd mallet. The bottom structure is also an iron screen window to prevent ash from falling onto the body.
The material which contacts the skin's surface is rubber, so it is less likely to cause burning on the skin. During the session, it is required to adjust the height of the moxibustion regularly to keep the temperature and effect consistent.
This small round compact moxibustion device is suitable for treating limbs and the abdomen. It comes with an elastic band that can be fixed on where treatment is targeted. After being lit, fix the short moxibustion strip onto the metal rod in the box. Once the lid is closed, the vent is for controlling the size of the flame.
If the moxibustion box is too hot, you can put the box inside the original sleeve before stabilizing onto the limbs to avoid burns. Due to the compact size, the length of the session is also shortened.
A flame-out plug is an essential tool for you to extinguish the flame safely after a moxibustion treatment. Since wormwood is inflammable, it is hard to notice if the flame is not put out properly after use. So, after your moxibustion, put the strip inside the plug each time. It minimizes accidents. Flame-out plugs are commonly made with either wood or metal. Both of which are safe to use.
How to perform moxibustionIt is best to use bare hands for a moxibustion session since it allows you to adjust the height of the strip anytime. The results are even more impactful if using the sparrow pecking moxibustion technique. In this method, the ignited moxa stick is moved up and down over the point like a bird pecking, or moving left and right, or circularly.
The treatment can initially be 7-10 minutes and extended to half an hour after the meridian channels are unblocked in later sessions.
I would recommend using a moxibustion box for effective moxibustion maintenance. Moxibustion care needs to be maintained over an extended period of time, it can be performed two to three times a week, or if you have time, you can perform moxibustion daily.
However, if you require another person to help, it may reduce the doability and results of the treatment. Therefore, by using a simple and convenient moxibustion device, you are more likely to keep up with the treatment to improve your immune system.
Moxibustion box or gourd moxibustion and mallet are highly recommended for beginners. The key is first to increase the frequency of treatment with moxibustion.
The Don'ts of Moxibustion
1. Don't get burned.During moxibustion, always keep an eye on how close you put the stick and the skin. The temperature should be warm but comfortable. If it becomes too hot, you should adjust the height of the maxima stick immediately to avoid blistering.
2. Don't use moxa sticks on wounds.People with dermatologic diseases, ulcers, pus, or injuries are prohibited from moxibustion.
3. Don't perform moxibustion on children.Children's skin is more delicate than adults, and their energy is more active. Maintaining stillness during the treatment can be tricky. Hence, children are more at risk of burns.
4. Don't perform moxibustion on pregnant women.Moxibustion is generally not recommended during pregnancy, However, consult a trusted doctor for further assessment and advice.
5. Don’t treat people with fatigue, eating disorders, or alcoholism.Patients who overeat, are overworked, consume too much alcohol, or are too exhausted mentally and psychically should not receive moxibustion treatment.
6. Don’t treat patients with certain conditionsAnyone with diabetes, skin perception, peripheral perception, koro disease, yin deficiency, or solid internal heat is not suitable to try moxibustion treatment. Professional treatment for these patients is required.
7. Don't leave flames unattended.Since moxa sticks tend to burn dimly, they are easy to go unnoticeable—so flames must be properly extinguished with the flame-out plug. Ensure you extinguish the burning stick's flame entirely after each use.
We hope you find this extra herbalist tool helpful in fighting the flu and COVID-19 this season.