I have been studying Chinese Medicine – Acupuncture – and find that it has contributed to the welfare of my family, friends and clients.
The use of moxa for minor ailments has been seen to be very effective in ridding the body of local discomfort.
What is Moxa?
Moxa is the use of the wool from a family of chrysanthemum – artemisia vulgaris – made into a cigar shaped cylinder or pressed into cones of different sizes which is lighted and burns slowly giving off vapour and heat which can benefit certain health issues. Unlike acupuncture, it is totally non invasive and acts like a heat pack but much more localized.
Here it is useful to mention that artemisia annua is also used for therapeutic purposes – generally termed ‘artemisinin’, it is extremely useful for virus attack such as in colds and flu. As a culture we have become used to ready made pills (in fact ready made anything) – that is what is wrong as we have given away responsibility for health to someone else. With some research we can all use natural products for personal therapy – too much reliance is placed on the ‘mystical’ skill of someone called a practitioner.
The area around the shingle lesions is very sensitive and so any treatment needs to be gentle. The object of using moxa for shingle pain is not to use acupoints but to stimulate the area around each lesion with heat.
For example I recently used moxa treatment for a shingle issue in the left scapula area on a family member. A standard moxa stick was moved around and between the lesions starting from the left side of the spine – treatment duration was around 10 minutes and was done twice in two days.
The technique is to place the moxa at points around each discrete lesion and move it around at 2-2.5cm(1″) intervals each time the heat is ‘felt’.
Placing and using the Moxa stick
Here is a quick primer on how to use moxa. Be careful.
Hold the Moxa stick as you would a pen. I prefer to unwrap the outer paper sheath for a few centimeters (an inch or so) at the end to be lit leaving the white tissue paper protecting the bark. Hold the moxa stick over a candle or other flame until it smoulders – don’t burn it, but just use enough flame to light the bark, then you may blow on it until it glows in one small spot – that is enough as it is lit.
Now hold the stick over the back of your hand and feel the heat from various distances – you will find that for regular moxa the ideal distance above the skin is about two to three centimeters (1 inch).
While using moxa always talk to your patient to gauge the feeling of heat they are getting. Instruct the patient to say ‘hot’ when they feel the skin is quite warm but before any burn takes place – do not burn the patient. Keep alert and your eyes on the area that is being treated. When your patient says ‘hot’ move the moxa stick to the next point (or away from the skin).
As long as you pay attention to what you are doing no harm will be done. However you must remember that the moxa is burning at red heat – that is around 600 degrees C (around 1100 deg F) give or take. So you must pay attention to what you are doing or you may burn the skin and deeper tissues.
Moxa Treatment Summary
Just after the moxa treatment most of the pain was gone. The next day and for some months now, all pain is gone and the family member has not suffered with any further pain or discomfort from the viral attack on the nerves in this area – it is quite remarkable.
This is a non invasive and safe treatment but I recommend that it be done by someone who has studied the moxa technique. If you decide to try it, practice on yourself if you feel that you are responsible enough to use this technique. Once familiar with using the moxa you can then try the technique on others, with care. Do not leave the lighted moxa unattended – make very sure it is extinguished – use a thick ceramic vessel for this purpose or just place in water if desired – however it will not be useful again until dry.
The family member also took an increased dose of lipoic acid for 3-4 days at 1200mg per day which helps with peripheral neuropathy (nerve pain outside the spinal column). There is more information on lipoic acid as a component of CoQ10Sport from the website if desired.
1. Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion, Cheng Xinnong (chief editor), Foreign Languages Press, Beijing, China