The moxa therapy (also: moxibustion) is a kind of acupuncture and how it is native to traditional Chinese medicine. Unlike acupuncture, this alternative medicine therapy is still poorly understood in western countries. The moxibustion, which is less common today, is composed of the Japanese plant name Mogusa (latinized moxa = true mugwort) and the Latin root word buro (= burning).
Moxibustion for treatment
In moxa therapy, small amounts of medicinal herbs are burned down via acupuncture points. Mostly it is the medicinal and spice plant mugwort. It is dried and then processed into various forms of moxa, usually cone or cotton (wool).
Mugwort contains mainly essential oils (cineole, thuja oil) in effective ingredients, in addition:
- tree resins
- vitamins A, B, C and D.
- potassium chloride
The effect of the heat on burning off stimulates the meridian system (energy conduction pathways), which is intended to help the body's own energy flow better again.
In traditional Chinese medicine, moxa therapy is also used to prevent illness. According to an ancient Chinese proverb, no one should undertake a journey that has not previously enriched the Qi, the life energy, by Moxa.
Treatment with moxa
Moxibustion can be done in different ways. The following forms of moxa treatment are available:
- direct method
- indirect method
- Moxa cigar
Important: Therapy is taboo on the face and mucous membranes.
Direct and indirect moxa treatment
In the direct method, the therapist places dried cumin or cube on the acupuncture points and ignites them. They are burned off slowly until the patient feels a sensation of heat, the so-called De Qi feeling, which is often described as sharp heat pain.
The direct method can cause blisters, sometimes scars, depending on the duration. In this form it is painful and is almost only used in China.
More common in Europe is the indirect method. The moxa cone is underlaid with a ginger slice, garlic or salt as a burn protection or to support the effect. When the patient feels a hot sensation at the acupuncture point, the moxa gel is pushed to the next point. Each acupuncture point should be heated six to eight times.
Moxa cigar: therapy with a moxa stick
The herb can also be used in the form of a moxa cigar. This is a moxa stick rolled in thin paper, which is lit at one end.
The therapist keeps approaching the acupuncture points (0.5-1 cm) with the glowing tip of the cigar until the patient feels the de-Qi sensation. Again, the process is repeated until the skin is clearly red.
Needle moxa with acupuncture needles
You can also attach a moxa piece to an acupuncture needle that has already been set. In this needle moxa, the heat of the incandescent powder is passed via the needle directly into the skin.
A session lasts about 15 to 30 minutes and is initially repeated in one-day intervals then (a total of up to eight treatments). Thereafter, a maintenance dose is enough every seven to ten days.
Areas of application of moxa therapy
The Huang Di Nei Jing, the yellow emperor's textbook, recommends moxibustion for cold and wet conditions, as well as for debilitating diseases.
Main application areas today are diseases with a chronic character, for example:
- Chronic bronchitis
- chronic asthma
- Weaknesses after chronic illnesses
- exhaustion reactions
Similar to acupuncture, it is also used in the treatment of pain, for example in migraine and tension-type headache, as well as in diseases of the musculoskeletal system such as shoulder-neck tension, disc damage or lumbago.
Self-treatment with moxa
The Moxa therapy is also good for self-treatment. The patient is introduced as far as possible into the moxibustion by the attending physician. The safest method for home treatment is the indirect method with moxa cigar or moxa gel.
For orientation, the doctor marks the selected acupuncture points with a waterproof marker.
Complications of moxa therapy
Moxa therapy should be avoided in acute illnesses. Even with fever, hypertension, insomnia or during menstruation, the moxa therapy should not be used.