Moxotherapy - natural heat treatment
Moxotherapy is a natural healing method originating in Eastern medicine. Mogusa or mo kusa means burning herbs in Japanese. Moxa is a herbal cigar or pipe, named after Chinese wormwood (Arthemisium Moxae). Treatment with lighted herbs was mentioned as early as 16th century by the Portuguese missionaries who arrived in Japan at that time.
Medicinal moxa cigars are made with Chinese wormwood, from leaves harvested in summer and dried naturally in the sun. Chinese wormwood itself has no special properties, but it is easily available and burns at high temperatures, which is a desired characteristic in thermopuncture.
That's why aromatic herbs such as mulberry, ginger or aconite are added to common wormwood. The leaves are dried and crushed in wooden mortars, and the resulting dry
herbal mass of cotton-like consistency is then formed into cigars, usually.
Herbal cigar therapy
Moxotherapy involves brief, local heating of points on the body. These are exactly the same points that are used during an acupuncture treatment, on the course of meridians - energy channels.
Ancient texts have already suggested that when treatment with acupuncture and herbs yields unsatisfactory results, then moxotherapy should be used. This is because many diseases come from excess moisture, cold and low energy level.
Usually, patients whose bodies require therapy, enjoy the herbal aromas of the moxa. Conversely, people whose energy levels are in the healthy range, are usually not fond of them.
Complex effects of moxa
Moxa therapy works thermally, through infrared radiation and pharmacologically.
The thermal effect of moxa is, of course, the result of application. The average temperature of glowing moxa is about 600 degrees Celsius, so bringing it close to the patient's thermoreceptors triggers impulses of the skin's nerve endings and dilation of capillaries, which improves blood and lymph circulation in the body.
Bringing moxa close to the surface of the skin increases its external temperature to 130 degrees Celsius. Consequently, the subcutaneous tissues warm up to 65 degrees Celsius - and this causes secretion of chaperone heat shock proteins, which have a stimulating effect on the functioning of other proteins.
As we know, anything that is burned gives off heat and infrared radiation - and exposure to a natural infrared source, such as moxa, warms up internal tissues, dilates blood vessels, accelerates blood circulation, activates enzymes in the body and helps remove impurities and toxins.
The third, pharmacological effect of moxa, is due to the activity of herbal ingredients that make up its' composition. The essential oils are gradually secreted over the heated area, penetrating the body.
Prepared herbal cigars are stored among essential oil-secreting medicinal plants. This aging takes a minimum of a year and a half. More often, however, the process lasts for 3, 5 or even 8 years in the case of so-called golden moxa. Longer maturation of moxa increases its' therapeutic value.
Applying moxa therapy
Moxa treatments can be categorized as direct and indirect. The direct method involves burning a small amount of herbs on ointment-protected skin.
Some used insulators increase the effectiveness of therapy. These are: slices of garlic, ginger or aconite.
Indirect method involves holding hot moxa over the skin without touching its' surface. It's done either by so-called pecking with an herbal cigar (moving it closer and further away) or by so-called pressing (moving in parallel) over a specific point.
You can also place moxa on an acupuncture needle, "injecting" heat directly into the body. This method combines the action of moxa with acupuncture, increasing its' effectiveness.
Indications for moxotherapy:
- Muscle, joint and spinal pain; rheumatoid arthritis, arthritic gout,
- Degenerative changes of the spine and joints of the limbs (knees, hips, shoulders),
- Inflammatory conditions, myalgia and neuralgia of the joints, sciatica,
- Digestive problems, acute and chronic diarrhea, abdominal and stomach pain, constipation,
- Minor epidermal lesions, vitiligo, skin diseases, hallux valgus,
- Urinary incontinence, frequent urination,
- Sinusitis, chronic rhinitis,
- Diseases of peripheral blood vessels,
- Depressive states, fatigue, insomnia, stress,
- Weakening of the body's immune system,
- Problems with memory and concentration.
Contraindications for moxotherapy:
- Acute inflammation of the skin,
- Arterial hypertension,
- Mental illnesses,
- Heart tachycardia,
- Feverish condition,
- Pregnancy, menstruation.