Clinic Tools

On Moxa

I was trained to use direct moxibustion extensively in acupuncture treatments. I have been using small cones directly on individual points for the past three years. Beyond its warming properties, moxa smoke has a comforting smell that most patients really enjoy. Moxa has been particularly important in treatments that address a patient’s spirit.

Unfortunately, I have recently come to the conclusion that moxa smoke is not good for me. Each of us has a place in our bodies (or lives) that tends to be vulnerable, and for me it is my lungs. In the Five Element Acupuncture tradition, I am a Metal element constitution (Lung and Large Intestine are the Metal organs). Sometimes I process energy in the room by coughing, and I am sensitive to fragrances and smoke. This has meant that I can no longer use moxa on my patients.

I also feel that if it is irritating my lungs, it very well may be unhealthy for others. Experts disagree on whether moxa smoke is healing or an occupational hazard for acupuncturists. But as usual I’m not waiting for the scientific evidence. I can see that it doesn’t work well for me.

I do, however, think that warming the points is beneficial in cases of deficiency, so I’m trying something new. I’ve purchased a small infrared heat tool called a Therapik, and so far I am pretty optimistic about its use as a replacement for moxa. It provides a gentle heat that is just about the size of an acupuncture point. I will also be using moxa balm on the points, following the application of heat, so the patient may receive the healing benefit of the moxa plant itself.