I absolutely love, love, love the look of surprise, intrigue and comfort on people’s faces when they realise how much Acupuncture can help themselves and their loved ones around them. It is like opening the Tardis door and taking them into a whole new world that they had no idea existed. As a practitioner I have so many different tools up my sleeve that allow me to treat each person in a unique way based upon on their body’s DNA, the season, age, gender, their mood, the root cause of their ‘pain’.
Moxibustion (or Moxa) is probably the weirdest but most wonderful tool/technique that I use in practice. On the outside this therapy looks very alien, but by stripping this herb and its clinical use back to its fundamental properties, it suddenly becomes very familiar. Warming in nature, Mugwort simply provides us with a delicate form of heat therapy.
Practically it is super simple too! Small pieces of a Chinese herb know as Mugwort (Artemesia Vulgaris) are heated with a flame so that it starts to burn. The heat generated, is stronger than just a flame, it has the power to penetrate beyond the skin’s surface, deep within the body. The herb is then placed close to the skin’s surface, directly over specific acupuncture points, channelling the heat down and in. The warmth generated can be felt for hours, days even weeks after the treatment has been given. Scientific studies using Infrared detection are starting to recognise both the strength & lasting effect of this unique heat source inside as well as the stimulatory effect it has on the skin surface too.
Traditional Chinese Medicine has recognised it for thousands of years. Often talking about it in reference to ‘stasis’. It is the idea that components within us (be it blood, water, food, muscles fibres…) are not in full flow, moving in the correct direction, or symbiotically with everything else around it. Essentially the well-oiled machine that is our body, has a squeaky hinge, a rusty screw, a blocked pipe. The needles are one way of resolving stasis, heat is another. When you look at it this seems obvious, we all learnt at school that when you heat something it activates, expands and moves (kinetic energy). Exactly the same applies here!
Moxa is therefore brilliant for areas of pain or injury, by moving & pooling blood around a particularly painful part of the body we speed up our healing processes and dose up on natural pain relievers. It can be a lovely way to recharge our batteries – removing those periods of sluggishness, lethargy and low motivation. Raising our internal thermostats - defrosting those cold hands and feet. Warming and moving blood around our middles can be a welcome relief from painful periods, irregular cycles, stomach complaints and irritable bowels. The list could go on…
As the seasons are starting to change, it seems just the perfect time to start warming and building the body’s stores & defences as we head into more sedentary, restorative, wintry months ahead.