Acupuncture and moxibustion are part of the same treatment therapy, (zhen jiu), but when used with care, moxa can safely be used at home.
Moxa can be used on any area where you are experiencing pain, infection, or have an injury you would like to heal more quickly. It can also be used to strengthen general health as it stimulates your body to generate energy and blood. Points with an “*” especially have this effect. Do not tap the moxa stick on the edge of the mug to knock the ash off, for this will cause fractures inside the moxa stick, which could later fall off onto you! Instead, gently roll the edge of the moxa against the rice in the mug to allow the ash to fall off the tip. Use the moxa a few minutes before removing its ash the first time.
Before igniting, prepare a mug (something inflammable!) ¾ filled with uncooked rice or sand to extinguish the moxa stick in when finished. This mug will double as your ash catcher. Light the moxa in a candle’s flame, which will take about 2 minutes (the hottest part is at the top of blue part). The outer rim will catch first. Blow on the end of the stick to encourage it to ignite fully. Once the whole end is glowing red, the stick is ready to be used. When lighting succeeding times, ignite the moxa until it has an inch or so of its conical tip glowing red: this will ensure that the moxa does not burn itself out prematurely.
Plunge the burning stick deeply into the middle of your prepared mug to smother it. Leave it there. Don’t use water unless absolutely necessary.
- Do not let the burning moxa get closer than an inch to the skin (the thickness of the moxa stick).
- Do not linger over a single point for more than 15-20 seconds at a time, even if it still feels good. Instead return to it after doing other points or areas.
- Do move away from the skin ANY time the moxa feels too hot, rather than just pleasantly warm.
- Apply moxa from point to point, in rounds. If a point gets too hot within 5 seconds of moxa application, it’s full for that session.
- Moxa can also be used on large areas, rather than just specific points. When using the moxa in this way, slowly “snake” the moxa above the skin so you can feel the heat penetrate the skin. It should feel good! Such areas can be treated for longer periods at a time. You will know if an area is receiving too much moxa when it becomes intolerant to the moxa. Pay attention; do not burn your skin.
- Moxa is most successful if done daily, for 10-30 minutes.
Commonly used points for moxa use:
Spleen 6 On the inside of the calf, one hand’s breadth above and behind the inside ankle bone.
Spleen 9 On the inside of the calf, just below the knee. Run your thumb up behind the shinbone from the ankle towards the knee: as you near the knee, the bone flares out and a depression below it will likely feel sore. This point may be sore in a wide area, but its center is about a hand’s breadth below the level of the knee.
Stomach 36 On the outside of the calf, a hand’s breadth below the outside edge of the kneecap, a thumb’s width outside of the ridge of the shin. Master control point for the abdomen.
ANY cut or wound will benefit from the increased circulation that moxa application will bring. Minor local skin infections often heal significantly faster when moxa has been used.
ANY place where there is pain will also benefit from the application of moxa, regardless of its origin.