Some acupuncture treatments involve moxibustion, what is it? How does it help?
Moxibustion involves the burning of a Chinese medicine herb over an acupuncture needle or over the anatomical location of an acupuncture point. The primary purpose of moxibustion is to provide further stimulation of the acupuncture point which in turn will make the acupuncture treatment more effective.
The herb which is burned in the process of Moxibustion in Chinese is called Ai Ye (pronounced “eye yer”) and its pharmaceutical name is folium artemisiae argyi. The common name in English of mugwort leaf is far easier to remember and pronounce. Mugwort leaf is finely chopped and ground up into a punk. This punk can be either be placed directly on the copper handle of an acupuncture needle or first rolled up into paper as a stick (like a cigar).
At Meridian Healing Centre, Dr Kirk Wilson often uses moxibustion as part of his acupuncture treatment protocol. He prefers to use moxibustion sticks as they are safer for clinical practice. Moxa punk which is placed on the handle of an acupuncture needle has a history of falling off. Part of the therapeutic property of mugwort is that it burns at a very high temperature. So, care is needed to avoid any burning of the skin.
To start the procedure for moxibustion Kirk lights the moxa stick. He then systematically places the moxa stick within close proximity to the chosen acupuncture needles. The heat is applied to the copper handle of the acupuncture needles as well as the surface of the skin proximal to where the needles have been inserted. The patient will feel warmth around the needles. Kirk asks all patients to let him know when it starts to get too hot to avoid any burning of the skin.
According to acupuncture theory, moxibustion is not suitable to be administered on all acupuncture points. Kirk will use his knowledge of Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture along with his clinical experience to implement moxibustion most effectively.