Skip to Main Content

Fall's Here! It's time for Moxa!

by Anne Gordon

                                                      Fall's Here! It's time for Moxa!, Atha Wellness in Kirkland, WA

October 2019

Kirkland, Wa

Ever gone into an acupuncture clinic and noticed a strange and smoky smell, and thought "what the heck kind of herbs are being used here?!".  Chances are what you're smelling is moxa.  

Moxibustion, or the burning of moxa, is actually part of the acupuncture tradition.  In fact, the Chinese character for acupuncture, zhenjiu, is composed of two parts.  The first is "zhen", or needle, and the second is "jiu", meaning moxa.  Together acupuncture and moxibustion form an integral and complimentary part of Chinese Medicine healing going back to at least 305 BC.

So what is moxa exactly?  Moxa is dried mugwort, harvested from the mugwort plant.  The plant itself is very common, and while most gardeners consider it a very annoying weed, its an extremely wonderful plant if you're cultivating it for medicinal purposes.  It's been long  prized for its medicinal and therapeutic effects not only in Asia, but also in ancient Rome and Greece.  The latin name for Mugwort is Artemisia vulgaris, taken from the Greek moon goddess Artemis, a patron of women.  

Anne Gordon offers Acupuncture and injections, Facial Rejuvenation in Kirkland, WA

Once mugwort is harvested, it is dried, and then ground into a "moxa wool".  The moxa is then used directly or indirectly over different acupuncture points.  It can be placed on the head of an acupuncture needle and then ignited with an incense stick to direct heat deep into the body.  My favorite way to use moxa is to roll it into cones and then place it on the acupoint, light it, and when the patient feels warmth, remove the cone.  Typically, 3-7 cones of moxa can be used for various points.  Moxa can also be compressed into sticks, and used to warm large areas, as in the photo above.  

What are some of the benefits of moxa therapy?  In Chinese Medicine, moxa can be used to treat all kinds of gynecological issues.  I use it in clinic to treat heavy menstrual bleeding, and to increase blood circulation to the pelvis to reduce menstrual pain, as well as to reduce the size of uterine fibroids.  Moxa is often cited for its effectiveness in turning breach babies.  

Beyond gynecological conditions,  I use moxa  to strengthen the immune system .  Studies have shown that moxibustion specifically increases white blood cell, anti-inflammatory cytokines, and anti-body production.  Moxa also warms the body and to bring more Qi and Blood flow to an area, and can dispel "cold" which can lodge in the channels - essentially providing relief for painful conditions, like joint conditions such as arthritis that can be exacerbated by cold and damp climates or changes in the weather.  

Curious about Moxa?  Come on in and give it a try!  Book an appointment today!