Moxibustion is one type of hyperthermia (heat) therapy method that originated in ancient China. The method was brought to Japan along with acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine around the 6th century, where it then deveoped it's own style and treatment protocols.
In Japan, Moxibustion is called 'Okyu' and is referred to as 'honourable moxa.' Whole academic schools have specialized in the use of Okyu.
How does it work?
'The generally accepted view is that the meridian system combines with moxibustion physical and chemical effects to produce comprehensive effects. When physical and chemical factors act on the acupoint receptors, the signal enters the central nervous system through the peripheral pathways and outgos after being integrated, adjusting the nerve-endocrine-immune network and circulatory system, so as to regulate the internal environment of the body, in order to achieve the effects of preventing and curing diseases.'
What to expect
The Japanese moxa technique used at Newtown Acupuncture Centre involves forming small pyramids out of loose moxa and placing them on the skin and lighting them. The practitioner will then ask the patient to advise when the moxa pyramids become warm and then will remove them.
In the Traditional Japanese Medicine a direct moxibustion is used, unlike TCM indirect moxibustion using moxa sticks. With direct moxibustion, one often feels a burning sensation because the moxa is applied and burned directly on the skin. For minimizing heat sensation the burn Shiunko cream and the bamboo tube are used. Always let your practitioner know if the treatment is too strong for you.
There are about four types of moxa cones commonly used for direct moxibustion.
(1) thin strands (string-like)
(2) minuscule pieces (sesame size)
(3) small cones (half rice grain size)
(4) medium cones (rice grain size - 5mm height, 2.5mm width at base)
The type of moxa used in the clinic is Ultra Pure "Gold Mountain" Moxa (from Japan) is the highest quality, pure white-yellow grade available with extra fine texture. Easy to roll, making a fine thread or sesame size for direct Japanese style moxibustion. Ultra Pure Moxa has a higher concentration of essential oil and is less likely to burn the skin.
Ontake (pronounced on-ta-kay)
Ontake warm bamboo treatment is a Japanese moxibustion technique with the application of pressure and rhythm. A short piece of bamboo is filled with moxa wool, and when the moxa is ignited, the bamboo gets hot and can be applied to the skin.
The application of rhythm and frequency was developed by Japanese doctor and acupuncturist Yoshio Manaka. He noticed beneficial effects on pain along the meridian when tapping meridians at various frequencies. He focused his research on specific frequencies (beats per minute) for each acupuncture meridian. The technique was further developed by British acupuncturist Oran Kivity. In Ontake techniques, the bamboo is held vertically on the skin. It is loosely filled with Japanese Wakakusa semi-pure moxa. Bamboo with moxa is applied with rhythmic strokes either silently or using a metronome. The frequencies are chosen according the meridian.
Benefits of using Ontake moxa
One of the main benefits of Ontake moxa is that it rapidly moves Qi and Blood. It helps areas of tight muscle and indurations on the addomen become softer.
Ontake brings warmth, and it is very comforting and can help bring release of pain and create a sense of relaxation for many.
Whole body Treatment
The whole-body treatment involves tapping Ontake along the Yang and Yin meridians of the entire body. Ontake sends signals to many levels with heat, sound, frequencies to the deeper soft tissues. This is a strong tonic treatment with the aim to increase energy, relax tight muscles, relieve stress, harmonize digestion.
Additional Reading & Research
The Mechanism of Moxibustion: Ancient Theory and Modern Research