Moxibustion, or Moxa for short, is a Traditional Chinese Medicinal Therapy using dried Mugwort. The tips of the mugwort plant are pulverized into a fluffy substance which is then burned over specific points on the body to promote healing.
Mugwort or Artemisa Vulgaris in Latin, has a long history in Traditional Medicine and has been used throughout China, Tibet, Korea and Japan. Additionally, mugwort is regarded as a sacred plant of divination and spiritual healing by traditional people of North and South America.
All of the parts of the plant can be utilized; leaves are consumed as tea or added to food and according to medieval practices, placed under pillows for dream enhancement. Mugwort was also referred to as a traveler’s herb and was traditionally used to strengthen and protect travelers. Additionally, Chinese Folklore recommends draping a bunch over the door to promote health for the entire year.
Mugowort can be spotted popping up between sidewalk cracks and along the side of highways. Mugwort is all over New York City.
Mugwort apparently thrives in the urban jungle.
In Notes on Bian Que’s Moxibustion, it says, “When a healthy man often has moxibustion to the points guanyuan, qihai,mingmen, and zhongwan, he would live a very long life, at least one hundred years.”
Moxibustion is a panacea. Moxibustion has the power to travel to all of the channels of the body, which means that moxa can systemically warm the body and stimulate circulation.
Moxibustion treats “cold conditions”, which may manifest as pain, reduced circulation and arthritis.
Moxibustion has an ability to support the immune system and decrease inflammation, this makes moxa useful for the treatment of chronic illnesses, fatigue, allergies and lowered immunity.
Additionally, moxa has the special ability to guide to the uterus. Often called a “woman’s herb” moxa is effective for the treatment of delayed, painful and irregular menses.
Turn breech babies. This is an empirical usage for moxibustion and have been proven an effective treatment for cephalic positioning in numerous clinical trials.
Moxibustion for Fertility:
Moxa is considered an emmengogue, which means an herb that stimulates blood flow to the uterus.
Moxa is particularly useful for treating “cold” reproductive health conditions that manifest as:
Painful, clotty periods
Cold, stagnant conditions could be considered endometriosis, fibroids and cysts in the allopathic paradigm.
Using pole moxa or direct moxa over the uterus brings warmth and Qi into the organ. Blood flow quickly increases and pain diminishes.
A moxa box can also be utilized. Moxa box is literally a box stuffed with fresh moxa and burned over the abdomen. This can help concentrate the warming powers of moxa into the uterus.
Types of Moxibustion
Indirect moxa can be applied by using Pole Moxa. Moxa is pressed and rolled into sticks that are waved over the acupuncture points or regions of the body. Pole moxa comes in smokey and smokeless forms. Smokeless Pole moxa is useful for pregnant women.
Stick-on moxa is a great modern day product created in Japan, Korea and China. The base is a self-adhesive to the treatment point.
Fresh moxa is rolled into a ball and placed in the end of an acupuncture needle and lit. This drives the heat into the acupuncture needle, which is transmitted deeply into the acupuncture point.
“Shish-kebob moxa” are pre-rolled cones of moxa that can be applied to the tip of the needle.
A practitioner will roll small balls otherwise known as ‘Rice Grain Moxa” and place them directly on the skin, typically over a salve to prevent accidental burning. The moxa is often lit with a stick of incense and removed when hot.
Additionally moxa can be pressed into cones that are also applied to the skin and lit.
To enhance the warming power of moxa, direct moxa can be burned over a slice of ginger on the navel. This technique is particularly effective for stomach and intestinal conditions like diarrhea and nausea.
Burning direct moxa over sea salt in the umbilicus is another way to deeply warm the core of the body. This is very effective for the treatment of lowered immunity, hypothyroid and GI issues such as diarrhea.
Mugwort Leaf, Ai Ye:
The leaves of the Mugwort plant are also used medicinally in Traditional Chinese Medicine. This herb, called Ai Ye is typically added to a customized formula to bring warmth to the uterus.
Light the pole
Hold the pole approximately 1.5″ from the skin. Make small circles with the pole or a pecking motion with the pole.
Do not touch the skin.
Heat each point for 3-10 Minutes.
Extinguish in a mason jar.
Do not attempt direct moxa at home.
Acupuncture Points Recommended:
Frequent moxibustion on zusanli can invigorate the spleen and stomach, assist in digestion and strengthen the body.
Shenque (Ren-8): Frequent moxibustion on this point can tonify Qi and strengthen the body.
zhongwan (Ren-12): Frequent moxibustion on this point can tonify Qi and strengthen the body.
yongquan (KI-1): Frequent moxibustion at this point can strengthen the body and contribute to longevity, for it replenishes the kidney and invigorates yang. When using moxa sticks for moxibustion, it should last 3-5 minutes, and in the case of using moxa cones, 3-7 cones are usually needed each time.
For Turning a Breech Baby:
Use smokeless moxa at UB 67, the lateral tip of the pinky toe for 10 minutes on each side daily. Start between 34 weeks and 38 weeks for best results.
“The Vegetable Seller” by Joachim Beuckelaer
Many patients pair IVF treatments with Traditional Chinese Medicine. For those people, it is important to know some general traditional principles to help facilitate the process and make things easier and clearer. If you are one of these patients, in addition to your regular acupuncture regimen I would also suggest dietary therapy. Dietary therapy, which applies nutrition to treat conditions, will help to support each step of the IVF process.
Pre-Stimulation Phase (Down Regulating Step):
Some steps of IVF use medications to shut down or down regulate the ovaries. This can be to help synchronize your menstrual cycle and/or to help promote more follicular growth during the stimulation phase.
Often women are prescribed Lupron or the birth control pill. In the case of Lupron or other antagonists, some women experience symptoms such as irritability, hot flashes, night sweats, and headaches. In Traditional Chinese Medicine we characterize these symptoms as heat. In order to stave that heat, a diet full of neutral and cool foods can help to cool the body and let off some steam.
Some examples of cooling foods include:
Lightly sautéed dark green leafy vegetables
Grains such as millet, quinoa, brown rice
Berries such as blueberries, strawberries
Just as there are foods you should try and eat, there are also some foods you should try to avoid:
Avoid spicy, greasy and deep fried foods
Avoid meat and dairy that are not free range or organic
Avoid coffee, alcohol and sugar
Some women are put on over-the-counter birth control pills. In Chinese Medicine, the pill can cause stagnation. Because of this, a diet based on foods that move the Qi and blood are recommended.
Examples are as follows:
Small portions of salads with cooked foods inside
Dark, green leafy vegetables
Apple cider Vinegar
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts
Once you begin the stimulation portion of IVF you will need to make sure that you are adequately hydrated and that you are eating enough proteins and brightly colored foods high in anti-oxidants. During the stim phase of a regular IVF, most women are doing at least two injections – twice daily to stimulate the ovaries.
During this time we suggest food that nourishes the follicles while reducing water retention and bloating. Along with water of course, I think that coconut water is a great and natural way to balance electrolytes in the body. You are asking your body to do a year’s worth of work in about 10 days so make sure you get enough sleep and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
I personally prefer organic food or local farm raised food as the pesticides and growth hormones are minimized. Organic food is pricier but you are making an investment into your health.
Here are some food suggestions to help support the follicles:
Wild Salmon or Artic Char
Cod liver oil
Full fat butter (unless you are a waterlogged person)
Fruits and vegetables nourish the follicles and support ovarian growth while reducing water retention.
Suggested fruits are:
Lightly steamed and sautéed
As with everything, there are certain things you should avoid, such as:
Highly acidic vegetables like the night-shades
Overly salty food
Artificial colors and sweeteners
Coffee and alcohol – even decaf coffee can be drying for the body.
You can, and also should, apply heat with a water bottle during the stimulation phase only.
It is important to get a good night’s sleep before retrieval. A five minute guided meditation is a good way to say goodnight as well as start the day.
Some women report feeling bloated after retrieval. Again, coconut water, Gatorade or even your own electrolyte drink will help regulate your fluids. You can also create your own drink with apple cider vinegar, maple syrup and water.
During the next few days when you are awaiting transfer, it is very important to still eat well. Don’t fall off the wagon because the eggs have been retrieved. A diet rich in healthy fats, protein, grains, fruits and vegetables is highly recommended.
Once you transfer, discontinue using the hot water bottle on your abdomen but sill keep your uterus energetically warm by consuming warm foods. Try to avoid icy drinks likes smoothies, ice cream and lots of cold raw foods.
Pineapple is high in the enzyme Bromelain which has been used for thousands of years as a meat tenderizer. Bromelain is highly concentrated in the core of the pineapple. Studies have shown that bromelain can support implantation by relaxing the muscles of the uterine wall. Wives tale or not, pineapple is pretty easy to eat and for those of you who run very cold you can grill the pineapple on the barbecue.
It is important to breathe deeply and try to remain as positive as possible. Set yourself a daily goal that is easy to accomplish. Try to turn in early and put your health as the number one priority.
Eating well is just another way to thank your body and mind.
I must admit I am Honey Crazy or as my 7 year-old daughter would say “Honey Cray Cray”. Spending $50 on a container of honey seems perfectly justified. I mean, my number one priority is health and Honey is my medicine. I love the creamy, raw kind that leaves bits of wax and other flotsam in my tea. I’ve always heard about Manuka Honey but a recent diagnosis of asymptomatic H Pylori in my yearly bloods gave me the perfect excuse to try this top shelf varietal. In the health food store Manuka honey is often stored behind the counter or locked in a glass case. I’m not talking about Krylon cans at the hardware store or jewels at Tiffany’s, this is medicinal grade honey from the Manuka Tree from New Zealand.
What is Manuka Honey?
Manuka honey appears to have a touch of magic inside. From all I’ve read it’s clear that they really cannot pinpoint exactly why Manuka Honey has such a strong antibacterial quality. This stuff is one of the only substances that has been proven effective against the deadly and antibiotic resistant MRSA virus. Truly.
The world’s foremost expert on Manka Honey is Professor Peter Charles Molan MBE. Since 1981 Professor Molan has been researching Manuka Honey. In a recent article by the BBC Professor Molan stated “In all honeys, there is -to different levels – hydrogen peroxide produced from an enzyme that bees add to the nectar. “In manuka honey, and its close relative which grows in Australia called jellybush, there’s something else besides the hydrogen peroxide. “And there’s nothing like that ever been found anywhere else in the world.” That “something else” has proved very hard to pin down. Even now, after more than twenty years of research, Peter Molan admits he still has no idea exactly what it is. But he has given it a name: unique manuka factor, or UMF.”
This small, flowering shrub goes by many different names including Manuka, Kanuka (a close cousin of the Manuka tree), Leptospermum scoparium, Tea Tree or Jellybush. Manuka is the traditional Maori name for the shrub. Hives are placed within regions that have flowering Manuka Trees. Although it is impossible to police the whereabouts of bees, Manuka Honey is tested and must maintain at least 70% of its source from the pollen of the Manuka Tree.
The Science: Manuka Honey’s Healing Properties
Honey has been used for thousands of years as a topical antibiotic treatment from Ancient Egypt through World War II. The popularity of antibiotics decreased the popularity of honey as topical medicine until the rise of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria like MRSA. This age-old remedy is rising in popularity again.
Manuka Honey has been shown to have hydrogen peroxide which stimulates the growth of cells responsible for replacing damaged tissue. The plant based hydrogen peroxide in Manuka Honey also stimulates the development of new blood vessels which is an important step in tissue regeneration. Manuka honey also contains MGO (Methylglyoxal) which is responsible for Manuka honey’s stable antibacterial activity and is not as sensitive to light and heat like hydrogen peroxide. Some research finds that the sugar in honey also helps reduce odor from a healing wound.
The honey not only fights infection and aids tissue healing but has been found in clinical trials to reduce inflammation and scarring.
The most common wound-infecting species of bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus, has been found to be particularly sensitive to this honey. Recent tests on many strains of multi-antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as MRSA have no resistance to Manuka honey.
Manuka Honey has been proven effective for the treatment of:
Oral and dental health like preventing gingivitis and other periodontal disease
Stomach ulcers from H Pylori bacteria
Manuka honey topically can treat:
Wound healing post surgery
Acute trauma/ lacerations
Insect bites, stings
Manuka Honey has a very specific almost medicinal taste. which has been characterized as, “earthy, oily, herbaceous”, and “florid, rich and complex”. Other qualificatives used by the New Zealand honey industry are, a “damp earth, heather, aromatic” aroma and a “mineral, slightly bitter” flavor.
For the treatment of GI complaints including H Pylori the suggestion is eating one teaspoonful of honey with a small piece of toast or a cracker half hour before meals three times daily. The food helps slow the honeys absorption into the blood stream.
Topical usages include spot treatments on acne and abrasions. For deeper wounds apply Manuka Honey and wrap with gauze bandages. Change dressing three times daily.
Although honey has always been touted for its antibacterial qualities Maunka Honey exhibits stronger healing power which is graded by its UMF or MGO.
GRADING SYSTEM: Getting the Good Stuff
Manuka honey is so valuable that a grading system was implemented to classify its healing powers. This grading system also enables people to buy Manuka Honey in varying degrees of potency as well as expose people trying to sell knock-offs with much less medicinal value for inflated prices.
Check for these two Grades
UMF® Rating vs MGO Rating
The UMF® testing procedure, known in the industry as the non-peroxide test, was established by Professor Molan. The name UMF® is followed by a number that indicates the strength of its UMF® antibacterial property in a batch of UMF® Manuka Honey tested in the licensed laboratory after the honey has been packed.
The UMF test involves comparing the performance of a Manuka honey sample on Staphylococcus aureus to Phenol, a common antiseptic. This test is the more standardized way to test the antibiotic content of Manuka Honey. This means that a honey with a UMF grade of 20+ is equivalent to a 20% solution of Phenol. All Manuka Honey that has a rating of 10+ is considered Active Manuka Honey.
MGO Rating is a system for testing the level of Methylglyoxal in Manuka Honey. The higher the MGO rating the more powerful the antibacterial power. Manuka Honey MGO™ 100+ is the minimum Methylglyoxal (MGO™) content required to help kill many of the major bacterias. This is equivalent to UMF®10.
Therapeutic values are generally over 10+ UMF. Some more serious conditions require 15+ or even 20+ UMF.
Traditional Maori Uses of the Manuka Tree:
Both the Manuka and Kanuka plants have historically been used by Maori and early European settlers for medicinal purposes. This use includes using the bark as a poultice, for colds, for flu, and stomach aches. Ashes of mānuka were rubbed on the scalp to cure dandruff, Mānuka branches were used to splint broken limbs. Leaves were put in a calabash with water and hot stones, and the liquid was drunk to ease a fever. The bark was boiled in water, which was drunk to cure dysentery and diarrhoea.
I spent a week eating Manuka honey as prescribed 3x daily with a spoon while I waited for the H Pylori breath test results (the breath test is more conclusive than blood work). The results came back negative which meant I was fine all along!
Through all this research I stumbled up Sidr Honey. This honey is from the Ancient and Mystical Sidr Tree in Yemen and is the most expensive honey on the planet. Let’s just say my curiosity is piqued. Stay tuned as I bring you some info on Sidr Honey, the Louboutin of all Honeys….YUM!