Moxibustion is a traditional Chinese medicine technique that involves the burning of mugwort, a small, spongy herb, to facilitate healing. Moxibustion has been used throughout Asia for thousands of years. ” The purpose of moxibustion, as with most forms of traditional Chinese medicine, is to strengthen the blood, stimulate the flow of qi, and maintain general health. This therapy strongly used in pain management, sport injuries, fatigue, infertility, menstrual cramps, to turn breech babies into normal head-down position prior to childbirth and increase movement of fetus.
More so than in the past, people today are in fact having a cold constitution based on eastern medical diagnosis. The burning of moxa is believed to expel cold and to warm the meridians, leading to the smoother flow of blood and qi.
Why do more people have cold constitutions now than in the past?
A cold constitution is triggered or aggravated by over cooling of our body systems. Due to technological advancement, we are exposing our systems to cold of a much higher magnitude than in the past. Two such examples, both of which did not exist in the past, are wide spread use of refrigerators and air conditioners in almost every office and household. Many people are regularly drinking a large amount of icy cold beverages and their favorite ice cream. Air conditioners certainly make our lives more comfortable in hot summer days and nights, however we are then exposed to cold winds not only in winter but year-round. Unlike in the past, cold constitutions are not commonly seen in the cold climate regions only, but anywhere in the modern world including the southern tropics. Furthermore, it should also be noted that many pharmaceutical drugs including common over the counter pain medications are known to decrease body temperature. Other common causes of cold constitution are large consumption of fruits and raw vegetables and ongoing mental/emotional stress.
In Western medicine, moxibustion has successfully been used to turn breech babies into a normal head-down position prior to childbirth. A landmark study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1998 found that up to 75% of women suffering from breech presentations before childbirth had fetuses that rotated to the normal position after receiving moxibustion at an acupuncture point on the Bladder meridian. Other studies have shown that moxibustion increases the movement of the fetus in pregnant women, and may reduce the symptoms of menstrual cramps when used in conjunction with traditional acupuncture.
Why do acupuncturists use mugwort? Why not use some other herb?
Mugwort, also known as artemesia vulgaris or ai ye in Chinese, has a long history of use in folk medicine. Research has shown that it acts as an emmenagogue that is, an agent that increases blood circulation to the pelvic area and uterus and stimulates menstruation. This could explain its use in treating breech births and menstrual cramps.