Moxa, also known as Mugwort in English and Artemesia Vulgaris in Latin, is a very special Chinese herb which is applied externally and sometimes decocted as a tea to be taken internally. With a unique spongy texture and a long history of medical use, moxa is one of the highlights of Chinese Medicine! This article will focus on its external use.
The Chinese word “zhenjiu” — which is now translated as “acupuncture” — actually describes the combination of acupuncture with moxibustion, or moxa-burning. The two techniques used to be understood as two essential parts of one fundamental approach to treating disease and maintaining health. In modern American acupuncture clinics, moxa is used very frequently but still gets far less media attention than acupuncture.
There are a variety of methods for the practice of moxibustion depending on the style of treatment and the condition of the patient. Traditionally, small amounts of the herb are burned directly on the skin, but we at Aiyana Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs use indirect moxibustion style. Practitioners often use cigar or pole, platform, or herb insulated moxibustion. In my clinic To protect my own health, I avoid inhaling the thick smoke of regular moxibustion by mainly using a smokeless moxa pole, which is a rod of charcoal impregnated with moxa. The ignited pole is held above the point or area being treated, and does not come into contact with the skin. The patient experiences a warming sensation and reports feeling very comfortable and relaxed during the treatment.
Moxabustion is useful for a variety of conditions.
Pain: One of moxa’s active components, borneol, is commonly used in topical therapies for its antiseptic and analgesic effects.
Arthritis and other painful joint conditions
Tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, or repetitive strain injuries
Sprains and Strains: Speeds healing of damaged tissue
Muscle tension or stiffness: moxa relaxes tension and increases circulation
Decrease swelling and inflammation
Read more about pain treatment at Aiyana Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs
Reproductive: Research has shown that moxa acts as an agent that increases blood circulation to the pelvic area and uterus and regulates menstruation.
Menstrual cramps and pelvic inflammatory disease
Enhance fertility via increased circulation of blood to uterus
Turn breech babies to a normal position
Reduce the intensity and duration of labor pains
Reduce the appearance of old scars
Boost immune system for cold and flu treatment and prevention
Chronic autoimmune-related illness
Open bronchial airways for asthma
Digestive disorders such as IBS and diarrhea
Gastric, abdominal, or intestinal pains
A few more bonus points for moxa:
It can be used for treating children or those who are severely needle-phobic. Treating acupuncture points with moxa alone can gently stimulate the action of the point just through the heat and energy from moxa itself.
In my personal clinical experience I have observed that moxa treatment used in combination with acupuncture often allows patients to enter a more relaxed state of rest than just acupuncture treatment alone. Within the first few minutes of moxibustion, I notice that my patients’ breathing becomes much deeper and slower as their body and mind let go of pent-up tension.
Aside from being useful to treat the above conditions and as a preventative measure to maintain health, moxa has been known throughout the ages as an agent that can prolong life! Its famous reputation for promoting longevity goes back to ancient classic Chinese Medical texts.
Acupuncture and moxibustion therapy can be very effective to help turn a single breech. The treatments are safe to both mother and child. Needles are never placed in the abdomen but may be placed on your arms, legs, hands or feet. In my practice, the highest success rate occurs when patients come in ASAP after breech diagnosis, preferably around 34 weeks of gestation. Once the mother has reached 37 weeks the success rate reduces because the baby’s growth does not leave much room to turn. I recommend treatments twice weekly for at least three weeks, as well as using moxa therapy at home 2-3 times daily.
“I have been coming to Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac., Herbalist, on an off for 4 years. Each and every experience amazes me. Not only is her treatment incredibly effective but I’m also calmed the moment I walk through her door. Juliette has helped me flip a breach baby late in pregnancy, cope with kidney stones during pregnancy when no other treatment was possible, and is currently working with me toward having a successful VBAC. (Note: she did deliver VBAC!) I can’t recommend her work enough! She is truly an amazing healer”. -Jacqueline Click Here To Read More Patient Reviews.
Moxibustion for correction of breech presentation: a randomized controlled trial. Cardini F, Weixin H JAMA 1998 Nov 11;280(18):1580-4
CONTEXT: Traditional Chinese medicine uses moxibustion (burning herbs to stimulate acupuncture points) of acupoint BL 67 (Zhiyin, located beside the outer corner of the fifth toenail), to promote version of fetuses in breech presentation. Its effect may be through increasing fetal activity. However, no randomized controlled trial has evaluated the efficacy of this therapy.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the efficacy and safety of moxibustion on acupoint BL 67 to increase fetal activity and correct breech presentation.
DESIGN: Randomized, controlled, open clinical trial.
SETTING: Outpatient departments of the Women’s Hospital of Jiangxi Province, Nanchang, and Jiujiang Women’s and Children’s Hospital in the People’s Republic of China.
PATIENTS: Primigravidas in the 33rd week of gestation with normal pregnancy and an ultrasound diagnosis of breech presentation.
INTERVENTIONS: The 130 subjects randomized to the intervention group received stimulation of acupoint BL 67 by moxa (Artemisia vulgaris) rolls for 7 days, with treatment for an additional 7 days if the fetus persisted in the breech presentation. The 130 subjects randomized to the control group received routine care but no interventions for breech presentation. Subjects with persistent breech presentation after 2 weeks of treatment could undergo external cephalic version anytime between 35 weeks’ gestation and delivery.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Fetal movements counted by the mother during 1 hour each day for 1 week; number of cephalic presentations during the 35th week and at delivery.
RESULTS: The intervention group experienced a mean of 48.45 fetal movements vs 35.35 in the control group (Plessthan.001; 95% confidence interval [CI] for difference, 10.56-15.60). During the 35th week of gestation, 98 (75.4%) of 130 fetuses in the intervention group were cephalic vs 62 (47.7%) of 130 fetuses in the control group (Plessthan.001; relative risk [RR], 1.58; 95% CI, 1.29-1.94). Despite the fact that 24 subjects in the control group and 1 subject in the intervention group underwent external cephalic version, 98 (75.4%) of the 130 fetuses in the intervention group were cephalic at birth vs 81 (62.3%) of the 130 fetuses in the control group ( P = .02; RR, 1.21; 95% CI, 1.02-1.43).
CONCLUSION: Among primigravidas with breech presentation during the 33rd week of gestation, moxibustion for 1 to 2 weeks increased fetal activity during the treatment period and cephalic presentation after the treatment period and at delivery.
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Acupuncture conversion of fetal breech presentation. Habek D, Cerkez Habek J, Jagust M.Clinical Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Clinical Hospital Osijek, Osijek, Croatia.
AIM: The aim of this study was to assess the value of acupuncture (AP) in the conversion of fetal breech presentation into vertex presentation.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: A randomized prospective controlled clinical study included 67 pregnant women with fetal breech presentation: 34 women with singleton pregnancies treated with manual AP (urinary bladder 67, Zhiyin) and a control group which included 33 women with singleton pregnancies without AP treatment. The AP treatment lasted 30 min a day, and was conducted during and after 34 weeks of pregnancy with simultaneous cardiotocography. RESULTS: The success rate of the AP correction of fetal breech presentation is 76.4% (26 women), and spontaneous conversion without AP in vertex presentation is observed in 15 women (45.4%; p0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: We believe that AP correction of fetal malpresentation is a relatively simple, efficacious and inexpensive method associated with a lower percentage of operatively completed deliveries, which definitely reflects in improved parameters of vital and perinatal statistics.
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Acupuncture plus moxibustion to resolve breech presentation: a randomized controlled study.Neri I, Airola G, Contu G, Allais G, Facchinetti F, Benedetto C., Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Modena-Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy.
OBJECTIVE: In many Western countries breech presentation is an indication for elective Cesarean section. In order to correct fetal presentation, the stimulation of the acupuncture point BL67 by moxibustion, acupuncture or both has been proposed. Since no studies had previously been carried out on Western populations, pregnant Italian women at 33-35 weeks gestational age carrying a fetus in breech presentation were enrolled in a randomized, controlled trial involving an active BL67 point stimulation and an observation group.
METHODS: A total of 240 women at 33-35 weeks of gestation carrying a fetus in breech presentation were randomized to receive active treatment (acupuncture plus moxibustion) or to be assigned to the observation group. Bilateral acupuncture plus moxibustion was applied at the BL67 acupuncture point (Zhiyin). The primary outcome of the study was fetal presentation at delivery.
RESULTS: Fourteen cases dropped out. The final analysis was thus made on 226 cases, 114 randomized to observation and 112 to acupuncture plus moxibustion. At delivery, the proportion of cephalic version was lower in the observation group (36.7%) than in the active-treatment group (53.6 %) (p = 0.01). Hence, the proportion of Cesarean sections indicated for breech presentation was significantly lower in the treatment group than in the observation group (52.3% vs. 66.7%, p = 0.03).
CONCLUSIONS: Acupuncture plus moxibustion is more effective than observation in revolving fetuses in breech presentation. Such a method appears to be a valid option for women willing to experience a natural birth.
Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac., Herbalist, Author, Creator of HealthyStuffU.com Aiyana Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs 32 Union Square East, Suite 615N New York, NY 10003 (646) 504.2251
Moxabustion is technique where an herb, dried moxa (Artemesia Vulgaris, see Fig. 1), is burned on or above the skin at acupuncture points. In the USA most acupuncturists do not use direct moxa to avoid scarring, but rather burn the herb indirectly above the skin, like we do at the Aiyana Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs. The heat warms and activates the Qi and Blood of the body for the treatments of disease or health maintenance.
What Conditions is Moxabustion Used For?
Moxa can be used for a wide variety of conditions such as; pain, menstrual disorders and cramps, cold’s and the flu, asthma, diarrhea and vomiting.
How Is Moxa Applied?
At Aiyana Acupuncture we use Tai-ji moxa platforms (see Fig. 2), needle moxa (see Fig. 3), moxa warmers, or moxa may be packed onto a slice of ginger or garlic, in salt or on a piece of aconite. Another indirect method is the use of a moxa stick or roll that looks like a cigar.
Is Moxabustion Painful?
Indirect moxabustion feels warm and very good. Direct moxabustion burns for about 3-5 seconds. Both methods are very effective.