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Healthy Cells is a local health magazine with most of the articles written by local professionals. People love to read about healthcare from their local health professionals. Each month includes a wide variety of articles on various topics.
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One of the less well known therapies that I offer as a practitioner of Chinese Medicine is called Moxibustion, or Moxa, for short.


Moxibustion is a form of heat therapy widely practiced in China, Japan, Korea, and Tibet. Moxibustion therapy may be even more ancient than acupuncture itself. In this effective therapy, the herb mugwort, or Artemisia vulgaris, is applied directly to or held over acupuncture points. Mugwort relieves pain, detoxifies the body, increases circulation and is a natural anti-parasitic. The goal of moxibustion is to bring the body into balance by invigorating the flow of “qi” in the body and by expelling pathogens. In my practice, I use moxa sticks, these are similar to incense sticks. Once lit, they slowly smolder and produce a unique and penetrating heat. This stick is held over specific acupuncture points until the area becomes warm.

Patients undergoing moxa therapy can expect to feel a gentle warmth over the acupuncture points. The warmth will often radiate down the acupuncture channel to other parts of the body. Patients will feel relaxed and at ease during a moxa treatment as these treatments are very soothing. I would say it is one of my patients’ favorite forms of therapy.

In my clinical practice I use moxibustion in a variety of ways:
• Pain due to arthritis or injury, especially where the application of heat soothes the pain
• Gynecological conditions such as infertility, turning a baby in breech presentation, and labor induction
• Digestive problems such as chronic diarrhea
• Strengthening the immune system and preventing colds and flu
• In conditions where the patient is extremely weak and frail and cannot handle the intensity of acupuncture needles
• Patients who have a phobia of needles and want an effective and relaxing treatment

Moxibustion can also be done at home, and often I will give my patients a stick to take home with them, teaching them how to use it safely and effectively. My fertility patients love moxa so much, and my fertility success rates are so high with the use of moxa, that they affectionately refer to it as the “pregnancy voodoo herb.”


Moxibustion is another safe and effective treatment that nourishes and supports the body. It leaves patients feeling relaxed and reenergized and is probably one of my favorite therapies to practice.

Michelle Pawley is a board-certified acupuncturist with a graduate degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine from The Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine College, Berkeley. Her office is located at 1617 E. Oakland Avenue, Bloomington. For more information or to set up a consultation, call her at 309-445-1502, or visit her online at bnacupuncture.com.


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