The Magic of Moxibustion and Other Far Infrared Treatments



The magic of moxabustion and other far infrared treatments

Oftentimes, when treating new patients that have previously received acupuncture, they frequently report that they have never received moxa or other far infrared treatments. I personally feel that a patient who only receives the needles is missing out on the best part. Moxabustion always feels great to the patient, but more importantly, serves to enhance and strengthen the effects of the acupuncture.

What is moxabustion? It involves taking a moxa stick, which is made of the herb Mugwort, and lighting it, followed by circulating it around the needles previously inserted. Even patients who run hot, generally love the moxa. The effects are soothing and deeply relaxing.

Long before entering acupuncture school I was experimenting with energy work with a fellow graduate of massage school.  My friend had been pushed down onto a log and had received a huge amount of treatment to relieve her injured hip from pain, to no avail. After one session in particular, she got off my table, and happily expressed that her hip was completely pain free! Unfortunately, the next morning I woke up with severe pain in my hip. The only thing I could think of to do for relief was to go see my acupuncturist. During the treatment my acupuncturist administered moxa. In the middle of the portion with moxa I became very confused by the sensations I was experiencing. It felt like she had two sticks of moxa that were being started at both hips, and resulted in waves of warmth going down both legs, all the way to my feet. In truth, she just had one stick of moxa, which was circulating the needle on the hip that was painful. Needless to say, I got off her table pain free. I have never experienced the awareness of the moxa going inside since that treatment, but it has had a lasting effect on my awareness of the benefits of such a modality. Moxabustion literally goes inside the acupuncture channel and helps move blockage, and also adds energy, directly.

Understanding how qi and blood work together helps to highlight how acupuncture is enhanced by moxabustion. In Chinese medicine, there is an important theory called the yin/ yang principle. To simplify, this is a way to explain the balance between two opposing forces. Yin is represented by those things which are solid. Yang is represented by those things which are not graspable. The confusing part of this concept is that there is nothing completely yin or yang. These elements are always expressed via their relationship to each other. A very good example of this is the gasoline which goes in our cars. The solid portion of the gasoline going into the car could be represented as yin, or blood. The vapor portion of the gasoline could be represented as the yang, or qi. These two aspects of the gasoline are essentially two portions of the same substance. Qi and blood work together very much like the gasoline in our car. To translate into the acupuncture session, the needles are pretty clearly the yin/ solid portion of the treatment. The moxa is the yang/ energy portion. Using both aspects simultaneously is where we can enhance any treatment strategy.

Another type of far infrared heat utilized by acupuncturists are specialized heat lamps. We say, in Chinese medicine, that the Kidney system is responsible for keeping our bodies at the right temperature, regardless of what the environment is doing at the time. The Kidney channel starts at the bottom of the feet. This is why a person who suffers from heat in the summer can also benefit from utilizing far infrared heat administered on their kidney channel at the bottom of their feet. Far infrared heat is an energy booster and supporting the Kidney system with this modality helps that system function better.

The above topic is fairly dense. Please feel free to ask me questions about it when you come in for treatment. I used to teach beginning Chinese medicine theory at my Alma Mater and miss that aspect in my life, so am happy to help folks understand things better, if possible. Acupuncture, as you might have noticed, is a bit of a passion for me.

Yours in Health & Vitality,

Leslie Shanai