Moxibustion is the treatment of acupuncture points with warmth. Historically, it may predate the use of needles in Traditional Oriental Medicine. Moxa is a fluffy vegetable material made from mugwort (Artemesia vulgaris). Small amounts (1/2 rice grain size) are burned near an acupuncture point to be treated, creating pleasing warmth.
In Japan, research has found that moxibustion increases the number of white blood cells, boosting immune function. It triggers a cascade of effects in the circulatory and lymphatic systems to raise immunity system-wide. It increases activity of the adrenal gland, warming the body. It is effective at relieving pain, reducing stress, and clearing congestion. In those who are weakened by chronic disease, age, and other stressors moxibustion builds vitality to support the body’s own healing capacity.
I often use moxibustion. It warms and invigorates circulation. It supports nourishment to improve immunity. Properly used, it will: warm any chronically cold person, relieve inflammation, reduce swelling. It is indispensable for treating pain. It is valuable in the treatment of infertility, and in preparation for childbirth.
A particular benefit is that moxibustion may be performed at home. Points are marked at the time of treatment; their home use prolongs the effect of treatment to speed recovery, reduce pain and raise vitality. It is my job to reduce your need for further treatment.
I learned moxibustion from Robert Hayden, Junji Mizutani, Shudo Denmai, and others, and am grateful for it.
Effects of Moxibustion
Dr. Shimetaro Hara researched the effects of moxibustiuon. This summary of his work comes from Junji Mizutani, teacher of moxibustion and publisher of North American Journal of Oriental Medicine. See the last paragraph for his biography.
Even though his approach may have been somewhat limited and his research was done in the 1920s, Dr. Hara’s research on changes in the blood chemistry with direct moxibustion was a valuable contribution still applicable today. His conclusive findings are part of the explanation of the therapeutic effects of moxibustion, and they are as follows:
1. There is an increase in white blood cells. The white blood cell count begins to increase immediately after moxibustion, and reaches a peak eight hours later. This peak is maintained for 24 hours. The number declines somewhat after three days, but it remains elevated for four to five days after moxibustion. The white blood cell count almost doubles with moxibustion, but when applied continuously for six weeks, the increase is sustained for up to 13 weeks after moxibustion is discontinued.
2. The phagocytic activity of the white blood cells increases. For example, with typhoid bacilli the phagocytic activity increases just 15 minutes after moxibustion. This activity reaches a peak in two to three days, and gradually declines after that. Phagocytic activity is greater than normal for about a week after moxibustion but, when moxibustion is applied continuously, the increase in this activity continues for a longer period.
3. There is an increase in red blood cells and hemoglobin. For subjects who had an average hemoglobin ratio of 78% just before moxibustion, the ratio increased steadily to reach a peak of 90% in eight weeks. Applying moxibustion continuously for 15 weeks, it takes 22 weeks for the red blood cell count to return to what it was before moxibustion.
4. The sedimentation rate of red blood cells increases.
5. Platelet count increases.
6. The speed of blood coagulation increases.
7. Blood glucose count increases.
8. Blood calcium increases.
9. Serum complements increase.
10. The capacity to produce antibodies increases.
Dr. Hara claimed that these experimental results were produced by minute amounts of “histotoxins” (denatured proteins), which stimulated an increase in blood constituents and their activity. Furthermore, he enlisted the concept of homeopathy to explain that, while large amounts of “histotoxins” from big burns are harmful to the body, minute amounts of this substance from the continuous application of moxibustion was actually beneficial and useful for maintaining health.
Shimetaro Hara, M.D. was born in 1883. He entered the Kyoto Prefecture Medical Specialty School in 1901 and became a doctor. He began doing research around 1924 at the Public Health Section of the Kyushu University Medical School. Starting with his study of hematological effects after the injection of oxygen, he went on to conduct moxibustion research including, “the hematological effects of moxibustion.” After that, he became a life-long advocate of moxibustion on ST36 as a method of health promotion and freedom from disease. He practiced this method himself and proved its remarkable effects by living to the age of 108. When he passed away on June 18, 1991, he had been the oldest living Japanese man for two months.