Why did my acupuncturist burn something that smelled like weed during my treatment?
This is called moxa. It’s actually a very specific preparation of a plant we know as mugwort leaf or Ai Ye in Mandarin. It is dried and rolled into a stick, or dried and sifted to extract the most therapeutic leaves if it’s going to be used for direct moxa. Moxa is not like regular incense which is designed to have a scent released when burned. Instead, moxa therapy is a time tested method which produces intense, focused heat in a specific area of the body to move qi and blood which may have stagnated in a particular area. Like when we use needles, sometimes moxa will be used away from the area we are trying to improve.
How is moxa therapy different from other forms of heat and massage?
Moxa has been formulated to produce a more intense and penetrating heat than many other forms of heat therapy. In fact over time, held close to the body, it goes deeper and deeper in to the meridian, affecting qi and blood to that channel. While infrared light, is a similar therapeutic tool, it cannot be focused to a single area as well as moxa can.
How does warming my feet and knees treat low back pain?
This has to do with how acupuncture works. This 3000 year old diagnostic and treatment method is based on the Jing Luo meridian or channel theory. In that method, we learn that the low back is mostly served by the Urinary Bladder channel, and that there is a branch of that channel which can be accessed behind the knees and also on the lateral aspect of the fibula and little toe side of the foot. We can also treat the low back with moxa in that local area, but if this is a channel problem we can treat other places along the channel to get qi and blood flowing freely through the channel.
How is moxa used to ease the position of a breech baby?
This has actually become a fairly common practice recently. In some cases, when a baby is presenting in the breach position, moxa therapy is used to warm the channel in a specific place on the mother’s baby toe. Regular use of 5-10 minutes per session, several times a day often will resolve this delivery challenge. Of course this should only be used after consulting with the family doctor, and is simply intended to be an example of the uses of moxa, not as professional advice.
Articles for Reference: https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/explore-healing-practices/moxibustion