Smoke in an acupuncture office! We know that it’s legal in some states now, but what is going on??

Many of my first time patients experiencing Chinese Medicine are concerned about the strange smells that they often encounter when at the office. No it is NOT marijuana! Although the smoke does have a similar smell which often adds to the apprehension patients have when coming to an acupuncture office for the first time.

This treatment is called moxibustion, or moxa for short.

What is Moxa?

The pungent smell comes from an herb called mugwart that is sometimes burned in tandem with acupuncture treatments to enhance the healing of many disorders.

Mugwart is a warming herb that can be used in many forms including cigar shaped moxa sticks, small moxa rolls that are placed directly on the needles, as well as moxa cones that are placed directly on the skin. However, the last technique is not often performed in the USA due to the potential of burning the patient!

I most often use the moxa cigar, which is applied one-inch above the skin to the areas of the body that are to be treated. And no… I do not burn my patients!

Uses of Moxa

The radiant heat from moxibustion has a laser-like effect — penetrating into the deepest layer of the bodies tissues all the way to the bone level. The healing effects of moxibustion stimulate blood flow, increase circulation, and enhance an immune response, resulting in an acceleration of healing time for many disorders.

Moxibustion has many applications and can be used calm the nervous system and relax stressed muscles, as well as to treat other disorders such as:
• fertility enhancement
• breech presentation
• menstrual regulation
• digestive disorders
• arthritis
• sports injuries
• pain syndromes

Why Start Burning?

I personally love moxibustion, and have found it works through my own experience. In my early fifty’s I fractured my tibia plateau from an encounter with my horse. He spooked while I was standing next to him, giving me a side tackle of 1,500 pounds into my unsuspecting body. So I hobbled off for my x-ray to find out what damage had ensued.

The next day my orthopedic surgeon reported that he and the radiologist agreed that I had a break, and my bones would not heal. I was to have plates, screws, and surgery as soon as they could find a room at the hospital for me.

I balked at this treatment plan as I do not do surgery unless every other avenue has been explored. Instead, I insisted that I would go home with the soft cast and sit still like a china doll because one false move would further displace my bones. To the displeasure of my surgeon I went off to heal myself.

With my endless amount of free time due to the broken leg, I used moxibustion twice daily for thirty minutes each session, and gave myself acupuncture every other day. I was amazed how quickly the bruising and the swelling from the break resolved.

Two weeks later, when the next x-ray revealed that my bones had indeed kitted back together and that I was in fact healing ahead of schedule, this became my triumph: Chinese Medicine and moxibustion rocked! My surgeon was unimpressed but regardless of his disbelief, my bones were healing ahead of time. Because of moxibustion I am to this day hardware free.

So when your acupuncturist starts to light up, just relax and enjoy the treatment.