The FDA has recently announced it will enforce tighter controls on the use of Vicodin and other hydrocodone-based pain medications.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 75 percent of prescription medication overdoses are due to prescription painkillers. Since 1999, there has been a threefold increase in the sales of these products and a 265 percent rise in overdoses related to the use of prescription painkiller in men and a 400 percent rise in women.

Two million people in 2010, bought prescription pain medications without a prescription in order to get high. These statistics are very alarming and a lot of acupuncturists have treated several patients suffering from chronic injuries who became addicted to these pain medications.

People can choose not to use these dangerous products as there are much safer alternatives for healing injuries and relief of pain. One of these alternatives is Moxibustion, an ancient Chinese medicine form of treatment that is gradually gaining popularity in the US.

For people plagued with chronic pain, moxibustion can be a natural treatment for pain that can help allay discomfort minus the side effects of surgery and drugs. It is extremely effective for treating knee arthritis and low back pain.

Moxibustion involves burning of a mugwort plant near or over an acupuncture point to stimulate the flow of energy or Qi and enhance circulation for faster recovery and pain relief. The mugwort is grounded into a paste called moxa. The paste is then burned on the acupuncture needles or on the skin of the patient.

The Origins of Moxibustion

Moxibustion was first practiced around 500 BC in China and some authors believe it was widely used by a legendary Chinese doctor named Bian Que. He often used it to address chronic conditions without using acupuncture on patients who were not healthy enough to tolerate the needling process.

Thailand, Vietnam, and Japan have also widely practiced moxibustion, which is also deemed to be a type of acupuncture. According to some researchers, acupuncture actually came later after moxibustion. Oftentimes, a treatment combining acupuncture in West Orange and moxibustion therapy is used to bring about maximum pain relief.

Uses and Benefits of Moxibustion

The promotion of healing and the prevention of illness are the usual reasons for the use of moxibustion. These days, Chinese medicine healers utilize it more for the relief of pain through the stimulation of specific acupuncture points along meridians to enhance blood flow to body parts damaged by injury and to balance energy (Qi) flow.

Moxibustion produces a heat that has an effect similar to the heat generated by a heat lamp or a heating pad which are used to alleviate stiffness related to arthritis; the soothing effect of the heat helps improve circulation and relaxes the muscles.

Moxibustion can be combined with ginger and other substances to heal diarrhea, menstrual cramps, and abdominal pain. Since this therapy can be used to treat a wide range of injuries and health conditions, it is important to choose an experienced practitioner to get the best results.

Different Forms of Moxibustion Therapy

Direct moxibustion – In this technique, the practitioner burns the moxa directly on the skin. This practice is seldom used in the United States due to high risk of skin burning. However, practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine believe the burn and ensuing scars are a vital part of the healing effect.

Indirect moxibustion – This method involves that practitioner wrapping the moxa into a pole stick, which is shaped like a cigar. The stick is then lit and is hovered an inch or two above the skin. The pole’s tip is moved in small circles over the acupoint until the sites of the treatment get warm and a little red. The procedure lasts for 5 to 10 minutes and it leads to a slowly buildup of heat in the body that allows for the therapeutic effects of oils from the mugwort and heat to penetrate the skin without burning it. The oils have properties that penetrate the body stimulate the blood independent of the healing effects of the heat.

Another form of moxibustion treatment combines acupuncture and indirect moxibustion technique. The moxa is burned on top of an acupuncture needle that’s been inserted into the patient’s skin. This procedure delivers heat to a certain acupoint via the needle. Most acupuncturists use moxibustion and acupuncture together to alleviate all types of pain.

To achieve optimal outcomes, heat needs to be applied to the specific acupoint for a certain period of time. Though there are some who may get instant relief, others may need to undergo several rounds of treatment to get lasting effects.

Physiological Effect of Moxibustion

The burning moxa produces heat that stimulates specific acupuncture points, helps alleviate pain, and increases warmth leading to overall well being. The mugwort herb is a natural booster of blood circulation throughout the body.

For Chinese practitioners, the burning moxa boosts a specific frequency of infrared energy and this frequency is the one that augments the qi needed for your body to completely heal. The practitioners likewise believe that using indirect heat to certain acupoints can strengthen metabolism and the immunity of the body.

Moxibustion Therapy for Relief of Pain

For treatment of all sorts of injuries, Moxibustion therapy can be very effective. It’s usually performed after the injury’s acute stage, once the swelling and inflammation has subsided. It is very effective for treatment of tendon muscle, knee arthritis, back pain, and joint injuries.

It also works well for the relief of menstrual cramps and muscle tension. For back pain, moxibustion therapy is widely recommended alongside the use of acupuncture. It has also been proven to work well when combined with cupping and acupressure therapy.

Moxibustion is used to:

 To eliminate congestion and blockages caused by fluid and blood accumulation after an injury.

 Ameliorate stiffness pain, and swelling

 Warm injured areas that are cold to touch. This is usually seen in chronic injuries in which pain gets worst in damp or cold weather.


As long as the fire and hot substances are safely handled in a controlled setting, indirect moxibustion therapy is safe to use. If you want maximal safety without comprising the effectiveness of the treatment, apply a small slice of ginger on the skin as a shield from the heat’s burning effect.

Moxibustion should not be used if:

 Your skin sensitivity is poor or if you suffer from diabetic neuropathy

 You have a fever

 You have heat, redness, and/or active inflammation

Avoid using moxibustion:

 Over ulcerations or open skin lesions

 Over the lower back and abdominal area during pregnancy

You can use smokeless moxa sticks instead if you are sensitive to smoke or suffer from respiratory problems.