the application of heat to acupuncture points
and is one of the oldest and most effective
forms of oriental therapy. It is a technique
that originated in China and was introduced
to Japan more than a thousand years ago.
There are two different types of moxibustion:
direct and indirect. Japanese Acupuncturists
adopted both methods but prefer to use direct
moxibustion because of its effectiveness.
Direct moxibustion has almost disappeared
from Chinese Acupuncture techniques.
Both direct and indirect methods create
heat by burning moxa, an herb derived from
drying the underside of the mugwort plant's
leaves. Mugwort is part of the chrysanthemum
family. Great variation occurs in the grade
of moxa available for therapeutic practice.
Japanese moxibustion uses the highest grade
of pure moxa possible, which allows for
its application directly on the skin
Direct moxibustion is applied by using the fingers to roll a small amount of moxa into the size of a sesame seed or half of a grain of rice. This piece is then placed on the skin at an acupuncture point and burned with a special type of incense. The result is an intense, penetrating heat that stimulates the acupuncture point involved without being uncomfortable for the patient. Discomfort is minimized because 1) only extra-pure moxa is used and 2) the moxa is rolled into the smallest size possible.
Direct moxibustion achieves clinical effectiveness through its cauterization (burning) effect and its deep penetrating heat, effects which indirect methods are not likely to achieve. When moxa burns the skin, it causes an elevation in blood cell counts (especially that of white blood cells). This cauterization effect strengthens one's immunity. Also, the burning of moxa directly on the skin produces a deep, penetrating heat that is very effective in reducing pain and inflammation.
Moxibustion is best combined with Acupuncture but, when done alone, can also achieve excellent results. In Japan, moxibustion is used for the treatment of a wide range of disorders, especially neurological and musculo-skeletal ones. It is also used regularly for the prevention of "dis"ease and the maintenance of health and well being.
Only in Japan are there separate licenses
for the practise of acupuncture and moxibustion.
This requires practitioners to uphold a
high standard of training in moxibustion
therapy. While it a technique adjunct to
acupunture outside of Japan, moxibustion therapy
in Japan requires a higher degree of specialization
to obtain a National licence.
moxibustion has been used on domestic animals
for thousands of years. In today's Japan,
dairy cattle and racehorses are regular moxibustion
clients of veterinarians. The following information
is taken from the North American Journal of
Oriental Medicine, No. 13 and was written
by Bunzo Takamatsu, D.O.M., L.Ac.
Dr. Torashige Hosaka, D.V.M. has been doing
moxibustion extensively on cows for around
twenty years in Kyushu, Japan. Dr. Hosaka
tries moxibustion on all kinds of illnesses,
from digestive problems, reproductive problems
and musculo-skeletal problems to urinary problems.
He found moxibustion effective for most problems
and often used it in combination with Western
One dairy farmer, who was having great difficulty
with his herd's infertility problems, found
a cure in moxibustion and became a great fan
of it. He summarized the effects of moxibustion,
when it came to reproductive problems in cows,
1. It became easy to tell the time of estrus
and hence easier to impregnate.
2. The cows became less susceptible to mastitis.
3. It eliminated the problem of parturient
4. There was much less incidence of retained
There is no doubt that moxibustion works,
but there are still many things unknown about
the mechanism of it. We can deduce what it
does by studying many of the case histories
available to us.
Dr. Hosaka summarizes the actions of moxibustion
1. Moxibustion normalizes the function of
the autonomic nervous system. Mainly, it stimulates
the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting
peristaltic motion in the intestines, contraction
of the uterus, contraction of the bladder,
2. Moxibustion stimulates the immune system.
Its cauterizing action stimulates an immune
3. Moxibustion also promotes hormone secretion.
Cows without estrus for over 100 days have
estrus within a week after moxibustion. A
20% increase in milk production is common
after moxibustion. A very interesting fact
is that moxibustion seems to stimulate hormone
secretions when they are too low and represses
them when they are too high. This leads us
to the next principle of moxibustion.
4. Moxibustion has a double adjustment function
or autonomic adjustment function. For example,
moxibustion for constipation makes stools
softer and normalizes bowel movement, and
for diarrhea it makes stools harder and normalizes
bowel movement. It seems moxa has a homeostatic
effect on the body, causing a perfect physiologic
5. Moxibustion makes the problems of the body
more apparent. It makes an unclear condition
more distinguishable and easier to handle.
nine basic moxibustion points used by Dr.
Hosaka on cows. The application of the moxibustion
is as follows: First, make moxa balls about
the size of ping-pong balls. Second, secure
the head of the cow. Third, tie the tail to
the leg so that the cow does not whip off
the moxa balls with its tail. Fourth, put
miso (soy bean paste) on all the points. This
has two purposes. One is to secure the moxa
balls. The other is to avoid burns of the
skin. I would suggest using aloe jelly. Now
it is ready to go. It takes from 5 to 10 minutes
for a moxa ball to burn. Be very careful about
Chinese herbs and folk medicine have historically
successfully treated a common problem like
mastitis. Nowadays solely antibiotics treat
it. Naturally the bacteria acquire resistance
and new antibiotics are required. This becomes
a vicious cycle. It is no longer a joke that
mastitis is harder to cure where there is
the newest test equipment and technology.
In spite of the higher cost, nothing has improved
much when it comes to actual healing. Over-dosage
of hormones for reproductive problems can
easily become a vicious cycle too. Humans
now may have caused many of the problems cows
Is our situation much different from that
of a cow's? Are we really in charge of our
health? No matter how much our technology
progresses, we should always keep one thing
in mind. That is, as a rule and as much as
we can, we should try to maintain good health
for ourselves. Moxibustion, which can be done
by anyone and is so effective, could be a
very reliable means toward that goal.
During the course of
an acupuncture treatment, our clinic uses
Japanese needles, which are much thinner
than Chinese needles. This means that discomfort
is rarely experienced during treatment and
if there is discomfort, it is very minimal.
All needles are disposable and come packaged
and pre-sterilized with ethylene oxide gas.
New needles are used with each visit. Acupuncture
has no adverse effects or risks.
Acupuncture with disposable filiform
The number of treatments will vary
with each individual and the condition being treated.
For acute problems, only a few treatments may be required.
In some cases, one treatment will be sufficient. For
complex or long-standing conditions, one or two treatments
a week for several weeks may be recommended with less
frequent treatments necessary as improvement occurs.
As in any form of healing, the patient's attitude, diet,
determination and lifestyle will affect the outcome
of a course of treatment. Oriental medicine is also
an educational process in which the patient becomes
more aware of his or her own body, thus increasing its
ability to maintain well being.
Ideally, acupuncture and shiatsu therapy is used as
preventive medicine. Depending on each patient's lifestyle,
regular weekly or monthly treatments can keep both body
and mind in balance.
No. Acupuncture has been widely used to treat
a variety of domestic animals such as horses,
cattle and dogs. In Japan, it is regularly used
with success to treat cattle and racehorses. These
animals are immune to the placebo effect and to
the psychosomatic element of therapy. This means
that it is the insertion of needles into specific
points, itself, that works. While a positive attitude
may enhance it, a negative attitude will not block
the effects of acupuncture.
Acupuncture Points from the Bagyuiho (A
Chinese Horse and Cow Acupuncture Text),
Acupuncture has analgesic, relaxing, toning, balancing, and restorative effects on the body. Some conditions that are successfully treated include:
Headache & Migraine
Pelade (Patchy hair-loss)
Dry or tired eyes
Sinusitis & Congestion
Earache & Tinnitus
TMJ (Jaw pain)
Pre-operative dental pain management
Post-operative dental pain
Neck & shoulder pain
TOS (Thoracic Outlet Syndrome)
Tennis elbow & Golfer's elbow
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Numbness in hands
Rib & back pain
Buttocks, Tailbone & groin pain
CPP (Chronic Pelvic Pain)
Cramp in the calf
Achilles tendon pain
Plantar fasciitis (Foot pain)
Rehabilitation from injury and surgery
Rehabilitation from stroke
Post-operative & chemotherapy nausea & vomiting
PMS (Pre-Menstrual Syndrome incl. menstrual cramps)
Other menstrual irregularities
Discomforts of pregnancy (after the fourth month)
Breech fetal positioning
Labor induction and easier delivery
Insufficient milk production
Poor circulation (Cold hands & feet)
IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
Stress-related digestive disorders (incl. stomach ulcer)
Normalizing bowel function (incl. diarrhea & constipation)
Facial rejuvenation (Acupuncture face lift or Cosmetic acupuncture)
The World Health Organization (WHO) Seminar made the following provisional list of diseases that may be helped with acupuncture treatment. This list is based on clinical experience and not necessarily on controlled clinical research. The inclusion of specific diseases is not meant to indicate the extent of acupuncture's effectiveness in treating them.
Over 50 commonly encountered clinical disorders that lend themselves to acupuncture treatment include:
NOSE AND THROAT DISORDERS such as acute sinusitis, acute rhinitis, the common cold and acute tonsillitis.
RESPIRATORY DISORDERS such as acute bronchitis and bronchial asthma (especially in children and in patients without complicating diseases).
EYE DISORDERS such as acute conjunctivitis, central retinitis, myopia (in children) and cataracts (without complications).
MOUTH DISORDERS such as toothache, post-extraction pain, gingivitis and acute or chronic pharyngitis.
GASTRO-INTESTINAL DISORDERS such as spasms of the esophagus and cardia, hiccough, gastroptosis, acute and chronic gastritis, gastric hyperacidity, chronic duodenal ulcer (pain relief), acute duodenal ulcer (without complications), acute and chronic colitis, acute bacillary dysentery, constipation, diarrhea and paralytic ileus.
NEUROLOGICAL AND MUSCULO-SKELETAL DISORDERS such as headache, migraine, trigeminal neuralgia, facial palsy (within 3-6 months of onset), pareses following stroke, peripheral neuropathies, sequelae of poliomyelitis (within 6 months of onset), Ménière's disease, neurogenic bladder dysfunction, nocturnal enuresis, intercostal neuralgia, cervicobrachial syndrome, "frozen shoulder", "tennis elbow", sciatica, low back pain, osteoarthritis and dizziness.
CIRCULATORY DISORDERS such as hypertension, angina pectoris, arteriosclerosis and anemia.
UROGENITAL DISORDERS such as stress incontinence, urinary tract infections and sexual dysfunction.
GYNECOLOGICAL DISORDERS such as irregular, heavy or painful menstruation, infertility in women and men, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
EMOTIONAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL DISORDERS including depression and anxiety.
ADDICTIONS such as alcohol, nicotine and drugs.
Supportive therapy for many other CHRONIC AND PAINFUL DEBILITATING DISORDERS.
Masamichi (Daichan) Shibata, R.Ac., Vancouver, BC. Registered Acupuncturist
intra-dermal needle with tweezers
with filiform needle