Moxa or “Moxibustion” is derived from the Japanese words ‘Moe Kusa’, meaning ‘burning herb’.
It is a traditional Chinese medicine therapy, that works by applying heat to a specific area or point on the body by burning the dried leaves of the mugwort herb (Artemesiae Vulgaris)
The Moxa Stick
The ‘moxa stick’ is the most common form in which moxibustion is used to promote healing. Here the dried mugwort is rolled up tightly and wrapped in paper forming a cigar-like stick. The moxa stick can be held in one place, rotated in circles, or ‘pecked’ in a motion similar to a sparrow pecking at food over the area of an acupuncture point.
The practitioner places a finger next to the point being stimulated to maintain a comfortable level of heat and to guard the patient from the unlikely risk of burn.
The moxa stick is held approximately a half inch from the skin, although this may vary from patient to patient. Moxa sticks can be used on their own to stimulate an acupuncture point or can be used on a point where an acupuncture needle has been inserted. This simultaneous use of moxibustion along with the acupuncture needle intensifies the therapeutic benefit of the given acupuncture point.
Ginger Moxa is yet another method that combines the therapeutic properties of moxibustion with those of ginger, one of the most popular herbs used in Chinese medicine.
Practitioners cut a slice of ginger, approximately one to two centimeters thick, and pierce it with tiny holes. Dried mugwort leaves are then rolled up into a cone that is about the size of a lima bean. The ginger is placed on the umbilicus of a patient suffering from diarrhea or abdominal pain.
The moxa cone is placed on the ginger and then carefully lit with a small flame. The burning nugget of moxa and ginger remain on the umbilicus until the patient perspires and the area turns red. New cones are added as the original cone burns down.
In addition to treating digestive symptoms, ginger moxa is also beneficial in the treatment of painful joints.
Direct Moxa is a method where the dried herb is rolled into a small cone (about the size of a rice grain) and burned directly on the skin. Vaseline may be spread onto the skin to ensure that the moxa cone will stick. The moxa cone is lit with the end of a burning incense stick, barely touching the top of the cone until it ignites. Tweezers are used to take the cone off when the heat becomes uncomfortable.
Direct moxa is commonly used to stop heavy menstrual bleeding. Women suffering from excess bleeding will have moxa cones applied to a point at the corner of the nail of the big toe. The moxa is burned two thirds of the way down to avoid scarring or blistering the skin. This procedure is repeated with three to five cones per toe. Here again, in the vast majority of cases, the direct moxa treatment brings relief where Western techniques offer little help for patients.
Traditional treatment of asthma requires that moxa cones be burnt directly on the upper back. In this treatment the moxa cones burn all the way down in order to actually cause some degree of scarring.
In traditional Chinese medicine, moxibustion is used on people who have a cold or stagnant condition.
The burning of moxa is believed to expel cold and warm the meridians, which leads to smoother flow of blood and qi.
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.
Moxibustion is also used to treat inflammations where for example, if treating a patient with tendinitis, the moxa stick is burned over the elbow area.
Ear candling, also called ear coning, is an alternative medicine practice to improve general health and well-being by lighting one end of a hollow candle and placing the other end in the ear canal.
Ear candles are made of cotton or linen that’s wound into a cone shape, soaked in wax, and then allowed to harden.
An ear candling session can last from 15 minutes to 45 minutes, during which time a series of one or two ear candles may be burned for each ear.
Usually the treated person is lying on one side with the treated ear uppermost and the candle vertical. The candle can be stuck through a paper plate or aluminum pie tin to protect against any hot wax or ash falling onto the skin or hair.
The flame is cut back occasionally with scissors and extinguished between two and four inches from the subject.
The experience is generally described as being unusual, but pleasant and relaxing.
Some people may hear some crackling and popping, or feel some heat during the ear candling session.
People who have ear tubes, perforated ear drums, or artificial ear drums should not do Ear candling.
When followed together, they work wonders on your health and your capability to have a smooth pregnancy.
Your breathing and relaxation skills that you learn can be applied during and after birth with great success and can alleviate the discomforts caused by pregnancy.
If you feel any discomfort, stop. You will probably need to modify each pose to your body’s physical changes.
After you have your baby, you may be eager to resume your yoga practice to get fit and look better again. Doctors usually recommend six weeks of recovery time for new mothers after a vaginal birth and longer after a cesarean.
When you have been given the OK from your doctor and have no significant bleeding, you are ready to start again with Yoga.
Your postpartum body will be different than the body you had before getting pregnant and you will have to work with the body you have now, not the one you had nine months ago. For example, if you are breastfeeding, you may now be uncomfortable lying on your stomach in poses that squash your chest like knees, chest, and chin.