Moxibustion is an ancient Chinese healing method that utilizes the heat and medicinal properties of mugwort, derived from mugwort leaves. However, the key to the effectiveness of this therapy lies not only in moxa itself but also in the technique of its application. There are three main moxibustion techniques, which can be described as "moxa caressing”, "puncturing moxa," and "steady moxa heating." Each of these techniques serves a different therapeutic purpose: dispersing, harmonizing, and strengthening. Each affects the circulation of Qi energy in the body differently. Mastering these techniques is not difficult, and it is worth learning the principles and applications of each to achieve the best results during moxibustion treatments. This article is dedicated to this topic.
Table of contents:
1) „Moxa caressing” technique - dispersing energy
2) „Moxa puncturing” technique - harmonizing energy
3) „Stable moxibustion” technique - boosting energy
4) Choosing the right moxa
5) Summary of moxibustion techniques
„Moxa caressing” technique - dispersing energy
When there is an excess of Qi energy at a specific acupoint, the dispersing technique is recommended. In this method, we do not heat a single point but a larger area of the skin surrounding it. The moxa is gently moved across the skin, creating a sensation akin to "caressing." Typically, the entire procedure lasts from 15 to 30 minutes and can be used to alleviate pain in larger areas of the body. When it's necessary to heat larger areas, using moxa rollers is a valuable option as they enable safe and effective heating of larger body sections.
„Moxa puncturing” technique - harmonizing energy
The second major moxibustion technique aims to restore balance in the flow of Qi energy, known as harmonization. This technique employs the interrupted heating technique, also referred to as the "moxa puncturing technique." The moxa is brought close to the skin at a distance of approximately 0.5 cm. When the patient begins to feel a warming sensation, the moxa is moved away from the skin, interrupting the heating process. After a brief pause, the moxa is brought close to the skin again at the same distance. This sequence of approaching and moving away from the skin is repeated 5 to 7 times within a minute, and then the procedure proceeds to heat the next acupoint. The entire treatment, in which the interrupted heating technique is applied to several points, typically lasts about 20 minutes, transitioning from one point to another during that time.
„Stable moxibustion” technique - boosting energy
The final among the primary moxibustion techniques is tonification, aimed at stimulating Qi energy in the body. In this technique, the moxa is held over the acupoint in a way that the patient feels a gentle warmth. The duration of the treatment can range from 3 to 5 minutes, but it can be extended to intensify the therapy. If it's necessary to simultaneously heat multiple points, moxa boxes can be utilized. These boxes allow for the concurrent moxibustion of several points, and they are safe since they shield the skin from falling ash, allowing the therapist to attend to other tasks during the process.
Choosing the right moxa
In the techniques described above, we assumed that the therapist (or the patient themselves) is using moxa in the form of a cigar. This is a highly convenient form of moxa and is currently one of the most frequently used. When employing the "moxa caressing technique," you can utilize a moxa roller, which holds compressed moxa sticks. In the stable moxibustion technique, moxa boxes can be used with cut moxa, loose moxa, or standard moxa cigars. Alternatively, you can employ adhesive moxa in this case by applying it directly to the point (this way, you can affix it to multiple acupoints and heat them simultaneously).
Summary of moxibustion techniques
Understanding these three fundamental moxibustion techniques is the key to effective therapy based on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) using moxa. Each of these techniques has its place and application, tailored to the individual needs of the patient and the characteristics of the specific case (disease syndrome). It's worth delving into this field of Traditional Chinese Medicine because moxibustion allows achieving similar effects to acupuncture but is much simpler to apply for individuals with less therapeutic experience.
- Igor Sołowiow, Moksoterapia - bądź lekarzem dla samego siebie!, Warszawa 2015