Where to buy the moxa sticks?

You may purchase them at most Chinese herbal stores. The closest store to the clinic where I work is Yi Chang Tang: 685 Somerset St W, Ottawa, ON K1R 6P3 (at the corner of Bronson and Somerset). Phone: (613) 237-4681


Disclosure: I do not have any connection with this store and you are free to purchase your moxa sticks at any store that is convenient to you.

How to do moxibustion at home

Benefits

By doing moxibustion at home, you take control of your own health, enjoy faster treatment outcomes at minimal cost. 


Before you begin, it is recommended you read through all sections of this page, be trained and supervised by a qualified Acupuncturist and/or a registered Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner. Learn more about potential risks here.


"Give a man a fish, and you feed for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime". 

Short instruction

Hold the moxa stick about two fingers breadth above the acupoint. Spread two fingers aside the acupoint to control/evaluate the intensity of the heat. The radiating heat from the moxa stick will heat up the (marked) acupoint. When pinching hot (usually it takes about 10 seconds to feel that effect), quickly and firmly press down the point. Repeat the "heat and press" actions for 10 to 20 times. Avoid burns.

Cautions

Detailed instruction

  • You will need to purchase a stick of moxa, this stick is made of an herb, Mugwort, which is tightly packed together and looks like a cigar. There are some incense sticks available that deliver almost the same outcome.
  • Find an area that is well ventilated, but not too drafty or with a wind. 
  • Light the moxa stick, the tip of the stick will get bright red. 
  • The point you will use will be explained to you during an appointment, a small mark may be drawn on the skin to be sure you can properly identify the correct point. 
  • Place two fingers on either side of the point. This will allow you to make sure the heat is hitting the correct spot and will help you sense the amount of heat in the area. 
  • Hold the moxa stick 2-3 fingers width above the point. Hold it there until you feel lots of heat (usually about 10 seconds), then move the stick away for about a second. 
  • While the moxa is moved away from the area, use your thumb to press onto the acupoint. This will help channel the heat deeper into the body to the correct depth of the acupoint. Pressing on the acupoint also allows you to check if the point is receiving most of the heat from the moxa stick. Do not rub, just press. Rubbing at the area may cause irritation. The idea is not to heat the surface of the skin but to send heat deeper into the body to have a therapeutic effect.
  • Move the stick back over the area and repeat the process. Frequently ash the moxa stick to ensure no ash falls onto the skin and to make sure the ash does not build up on the end of the stick and block the heat from the burning moxa.  Ensure the tip is always bright red. 
  • The duration of whole moxa treatment will last 3-10 minutes depending on the condition. Very often the duration of the moxa treatment is expressed in number of "heat and press" cycles. Usually 10 to 30 times. The recommending practitioner will advise you on how long moxa should be done to best suit you. 
  • Certain conditions, including those with fluid retention, lack of sensitivity or numb, should pay extra attention to avoid burns/blisters. This is when having the two fingers on either side of the point is very important, especially if you are doing moxa on another person. It will help you perceive how intense the heat is. 

Moxibustion: Cautions

General precautions

Moxibustion is not appropriate for everyone. Do not do moxibustion to yourself if you are not being supervised by a qualified Acupuncturist and / or Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner.


Patients presenting those conditions should be extra careful when performing moxibustion at home:

  1. cancer
  2. blood, bleeding disorders
  3. high blood pressure, heart beats over 90 beats per minutes
  4. extreme fatigue
  5. skin issues such as eczema, rosacea, psoriasis 
  6. fluid retention, damp or wet skin
  7. neuropathy or loss or lack of sensitivity
  8. asthma, breathing issues
  9. mental, emotional, attention issues
  10. etc...

When in doubt, do less or don't do anything and consult me for further hands on training. Also, when there is a change in your conditions, stop and consult me prior to performing moxibustion. Usually home moxibustion is prescribed for a period of 7 to 10 days maximum then review.

Skin burn, skin irritation, blisters

  • When done properly, the point being heated will turn red. Usually it will fade away after few hours. Over days or months of use of the same acupuncture point, the skin may be cauterized.
  • Patients with skin sensitivity, non-sensitivity, fluid retention, damp, wet, thin skin or with extreme ‘cold’ conditions or underweight: be extra careful. Avoid burns/blisters.
  • Patients with fluid retention issues or thin/damp/wet/thin skin may develop blisters even when done properly.
  • Constant feedback with the receiver of the treatment is a must
  • Frequently feel the acupuncture point with the tip of your finger/thumb to make sure it’s not being overheated (sometimes due to patients’ cold condition or lack of sensitivity or fluid retention they may not feel the heat at all)
  • Do not friction against the acupuncture point with your finger: the skin may be sensitive. Press down only.
  • Ensure the ashes or the burning moxa wool NOT to fall onto your skin.

Smoke and marijuana smell

  • Room: ventilated, but not windy. Some do moxa in the garage with its door open; others do moxa right under the kitchen fan in order to extract the smoke and smell right from the source; others do on the balcony or backyard when the weather permits.
  • stay away from your smoke detector
  • inform your neighbour about the marijuana smell and the smoke generated from the moxa stick
  • wear a mask if needed
  • avoid inhaling the smoke
  • Be aware that Mugwort has a similar smell to marijuana. Its smell may stick to your clothes, hairs, room. It may be a good idea to let your family members, neighbours know that this smell is to be expected. As a precaution, you may want to notify people such as your employer, your friends of the use of moxa in case the smell sticks to your clothes. Some of my patients even have a ‘moxa outfit’ for this occasion! 

Fire hazards

Ensure the moxa stick is completely extinguished in a fire-proof dedicated container. Do not leave a burning moxa un-attended.  

Frequency

Follow my recommendation. 

Others

After treatment, do NOT:

  • have a bath or swim
  • drink alcohol, cold drinks, or eat cold / raw food
  • expose yourself to a windy place
  • inhale cold / freezing air

Hydration: if you feel thirsty after treatment, drink warm water to avoid dehydration.  


Do not:

  1. Purchase low quality moxa sticks: the mugwork is not compressed evenly and may break apart during the burning process causing the burning moxa wool to fall onto your skin creating a potential burns!
  2. do moxa when your stomach is full or too full, or when you are hungry or emotionally disturbed, involved
  3. do moxa in a windy/drafty area
  4. leave the burning moxa stick un-attended; always ensure the moxa is fully extinguished and keep it in a heat proof container.
  5. inhale the smoke from the moxa stick
  6. rub the skin at the acupoint when it is still warm