Archive for the ‘Cold & Flu’ Category

How Does Moxibustion Work Really?

October 18, 2011 2 comments

Using a form of direct moxa for a chronic shoulder injury

One of the most useful modalities in Chinese Medicine is the herb known as Moxibustion.  Otherwise known as Mugwort, Artemisia Vulgaris, or Ai Ye (chinese pinyin); it can be used in a number of different ways.  It can be taken internally, decocted as a tea, applied as a tincture, burned directly on the skin or indirectly just off the skin.

For the purposes of this article we will primarily be discussing the use of Moxibustion directly on or indirectly above the skin.  Generally moxibustion and Acupuncture go hand in hand, it is an extremely useful modality for a wide range of disorders, stages of trauma and disease as well as all ages, constitutional types and individual persons, all of which add to its intrigue.  How can one simple herb be so beneficial to just about everyone?

Mugwort (the type that we ‘burn’) is cultivated from the underside of the mugwort leaf and is packaged up looking like a spongy cotton ball-like material.  This type is generally used ‘directly’; i.e. on the skin, or placed upon the end of an acupuncture needle.  Indirect moxibustion looks more like a large black piece of chalk.  This type is much more functional in the sense that it is ‘smokeless’ and is held just off the skin to create heat and healing, and lowers the risk of getting burned.

So how does it work, and what can you expect from a Moxa treatment?  I have been using moxa a lot lately, 1) because the weather is transitioning toward winter and moxa is a warming modality and 2) because it is extremely useful in reducing inflammation, promoting healthy tissue regeneration and lately I have been surrounded by chronic unhealed injuries lately.

Many people ask how it works, and my tried and true answer is that it’s like using infra-red radiation to mellow out inflammation.  Unlike using heat just on the surface, Moxibustion, like infra-red, penetrates deep into the tissue, muscle or joint affected and though it’s warm to the feel, has the ability to flush out inflammation and essentially cool off the area.  In addition to just treating inflammatory disorders, Moxa is used to:

  • Reduce pain:  acting somewhat like an analgesic
  • Promotes healthy Immunity: when used at specific acupuncture points
  • Promotes kidney Function
  • Treat ulcers & other gastro-intestinal disorders
  • Fertility and menstrual disorders

Following is a great article, written in Acupuncture Today describing in more detail the how’s, why’s & what’s of using Moxibustion.  This article is especially great because there is some really good research to back it all up which is nice for all of us scientific brains out there who like to know how things work!

Article taken directly from Acupuncture Today:

How Does Moxibustion Work Scientifically?

By Yin Lo, PhD

Moxibustion and acupuncture have always gone together as one compound name in the Chinese classics on treatment of illness. We have explained in previous articles in Acupuncture Today how acupuncture works in terms of modern science.

 How does moxibustion work in terms of modern science? The simple answer is that meridians are like optical fibers that transmit infrared radiation.

Fudan University conducted an experiment on meridians and found the following: A high transparency (76 percent) at a wavelength of 2.66 microns has been measured along the axis direction of the collagenous fiber at the Gallbladder meridian on one lower limb in a human body. Along the fiber axis of the Stomach meridian, the transparency is 62 percent at wavelengths of 9-20 microns. The transparency vertical to the axis is 0.4 percent. There is a difference in transparency of more than 240 times between infrared light along the axis and infrared light vertical to the axis of the meridians.

The most interesting thing I have found out on moxibustion is that although it uses heat, it cools down the problem area, so the healing mechanism of moxibustion is the same as needle acupuncture. It is through qi that moxibustion does the work, not the direct incoherent heat that we associate with burning.

Moxibustion can also lower hot spots in painful areas. Please see the following infrared pictures. The color code for the images is as follows: the highest temperature is in white, followed by red, yellow, green, blue, and black.

Infrared image of back, before treatment. Infrared image of back, before treatment. The validity of moxibustion has been confirmed by many recent scientific studies.* It has effects on the immune system, analgesia, the kidneys, colitis, ulcers, neurons, and gene expression. Let us briefly describe them.

The Immune System

Moxibustion at acupoints qi hai (Ren 6) and tian shu (ST 25) inhibited the expression of IL-1 (beta) and IL-a6m RNA in experiments on rats with ulcerative colitis.

Infrared image of back, immediately after moxibustion. Infrared image of back, immediately after moxibustion at BL 23, BL 25, BL 18, DU 3 and DU 4. The back warms up as shown. A. Moxibustion at acupoint guan yuan (Ren 4) on sarcoma S180 ascitic mice increases the decreased erythrocytic C3b receptor rosette-forming rate, decreases the raised immunocomplex rosette-forming rate, and increases activity of erythrocytic immunosuppressive factor in tumor-bearing mice. Hence, moxibustion strengthens erythrocytic immunity.

B. On tumor-bearing mice, there is an instant elevation of serum ACTH and beta-EP from moxibustion at guan yuan.

C. Moxibustion at guan yuan on tumor-bearing mice promotes hyperplasia of the pituitary and adrenal glands, stimulates the secretion of beta END from the pituitary and adrenal glands, and increases the level of serum beta-END significantly.

Infrared image of back, two minutes after treatment. Two minutes after treatment, the heat due to the warming effect of moxibustion has gone and the back starts to cool off. D. In arthritic rats, moxibustion at acupoint shen shu (BL 23) could lighten local inflammatory reaction, eliminate swelling, prevent or reduce polyarthritises, maintain weight and shorten the course of the disease. It could help with recovery and promote the effects of concanavalin, inducing splenic lymphocyte proliferation in rates. It could also promote interleukin-2 production, and decrease IL-1 contents.


A. Moxibustion-induced analgesia was studied in rats, which were urethane-anesthetized. Single-unit extracellular recordings from neurons in the trigeminal nucleus caudalis were obtained from a micropipette. Suppression was observed on both wide dynamic range and nociceptive-specific, but not on low-threshold mechanoreceptive units. Moxibustion-induced moderate suppression with a long induction time. It suggested that noxious inhibitory controls may be involved in the analgesic mechanism.

B. The analgesic effect of moxibustion was measured by the latency of tail flinch threshold (LTH) in rats. When the surface temperature was modulated within 38-390 Celsius and 43-440 Celsius, LTH increased 17.7 +/- 2.1 percent and 22.2 +/-2.5 percent, respectively, after 5 minutes (p<0.05).

Renal Function, Colitis, Ulcers, Neurons and Gene Expression

A. The effects of moxibustion at acupoints BL 15 and BL 27 were studied on spontaneously hypertensive rats. Urinary volume was increased for BL 15, but decreased for BL 27. Urinary secretion of Na+ was decreased for BL 15 and BL 27. Systolic blood pressure was decreased for BL 15, but not for BL 27. Plasma levels of aldosterone and renin activity were increased, and atrial natriuretic peptide was decreased for BL 15. Plasma levels of aldosterone and atrial naturiuretic peptide were increased for BL 27.

B. The effect of moxibustion at acupoint Ren 4 on the function of MDR gene product P-glycoprotein P-170 in mice with S-180R adriamycin-resistant tumor cells was studied. A weak inhibition was found when moxibustion was performed at Ren 4 alone, and a very significant inhibition was observed in the presence of low dosage of verapamil, but not at high dosage.

C. Moxibustion at shen shu on experimentally induced gastric ulcerated rats was found to reduce the ulcer area significantly (p<0.05), and increase the zinc content in serum significantly. Pre-treatment by moxibustion had a protective effect on the gastric mucosa.

D. Stimulating acupoint zu san li (ST 36) on rats with a moxa stick can increase the activity of cholinesterase (p<0.05), and inhibit hyperactive gastrointestinal motility (p<0.05).

E. The effect of moxibustion on primary sensory neurons in the skin of rats was studied with immunocytochemistry combined with a fluorescent retrograde tracer dye. Moxibustion was found to induce galanin expression by primary sensory neurons containing substance P.

F. Pre-treatment with moxibustion at BL 23 significantly prevented the formation of gastric ulcer in rats.

It is quite clear from the above studies that the heat, or infrared radiation, from moxibustion preferentially transmits through meridians from acupoints to internal organs. Meridians act like a light pipe. This is consistent with our hypothesis that meridians are made up of water clusters (Lo, 2005).

Ask your Acupuncturist about using Moxibustion at your next visit; it is one of the most relaxing and comfortable experiences you will have in the treatment room!

If you’ve had Moxibustion in the past, what do you think of it?  How has it helped you?  Share your stories as they are usually the most helpful for people when understanding the elusive practice of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine!

Until next time ~



Lo, Y. (2005). How does moxibustion work scientifically. Acupuncture Today, 06(02), Retrieved from


Making Soup As Medicine

March 9, 2010 Leave a comment

By, Sebastian Mary on Flickr

Turns out medicinal soup can be good tasting as well as good for you!  I am missing school again today… thought I’d kicked my little stomach bug over the weekend, but it’s back again.  It might seem like I’m trying to miss as much school as I can right before finals start…. but lets just hope I kick this thing in the next day, or it’s gonna be a tough next two weeks!  At first I thought I was just over-exhausted; which is highly possible and probably the reason that I got this thing in the first place, but I’ve managed to stay right on the cusp of giving fulling in to this fun little virus… let’s hope it stays that way, it doesn’t sound fun otherwise. 

As I am sure you really want to hear me rant about my sickness, the real reason for my post is that I just concocted a delicious soup with Chinese and Western herbs to calm my stomach and it’s actually quite delicious as well as easy to get down and keep down.

Here are my ingredients:

  • Chicken Stock
  • Homemade elk sausage, which was harvested with a bow and arrow by my boyfriend:  Just a little for the protein
  • Cauliflower:  Just another cruciferous vegetable & has been shown to reduce the severity of prostate cancers… though this doesn’t help me out much today in terms of the prostate or the cancer, but I figure if it works for that, its got to do something good for my body so why not!
  • Sweet Potato:  Just for some sustenance, plus they have a low glycemic index
  • Chard:  Is packed with Vitamin K, which promotes healthy bone re-mineralization; which from a TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) viewpoint, is directly associated with the Kidney energy and therefore any boost to that system will essentially help kick the body into gear.  From another point of view, promoting bone re-mineralization directly relates to the bone marrow and thus by improving marrow development; immune cell growth and function benefits as well!
  • Mushrooms:  An immune system boosting vegetable in more ways than one!
  • Lot’s of Garlic:  Stimulates the immune function via macrophage & lymphocyte activity.
  • Chunks of Ginger Sheng Jiang:  For nausea and vomiting
  • Elderberry:  For its anti-viral properties and has been researched and proven to be effective in the treatment of the flu virus.
  • Orange Peel Chen Pi: To calm my upset stomach
  • Olive Leaf Extract:  Anti-viral & has been shown to increase the number of white blood cells, macrophages and lymphocytes.
  • Astragalus Huang Qi:  To boost immunity, & build the Wei Qi (basically the chinese way of saying boost immunity), also has some anti-cancer effects and good for general fatigue as well as stress management.

So far so good, it was absolutely delicious and I found all the ingredients at Limbo in the “aisle of herbs” (my favorite!)

Now along with some rest and relaxation, lots of teas and water & some Acupuncture I will (hopefully) be back on my feet in no time!

~till next time, be well~



Bruno, G. (2004). Building immunity & promoting wellness with botanicals and antioxidants. Literature Education Series on Dietary Supplements, Retrieved from

Lamm, D.L., & Riggs, D.R. (2001). Enhanced immunocompetence by garlic: role in bladder cancer and other malignancies. Journal of Nutrition, 131. Retrieved from

Overview of the Health Benefits of Fruit and Vegetable Consumption for the Dietetics Professional Selected Literature
Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Volume 100, Issue 12, Pages 1511-1521

Sisson, M. (2009). Smart Fuel: Swiss Chard. Marks daily apple. Retrieved (2010, March 8) from


Swine Flu Update

October 21, 2009 Leave a comment
By, slightlyfamous

By, slightlyfamous

If you are like me, you are probably getting sick of hearing about the Swine Flu, but I feel pretty passionate about spreading any good information I hear & I am a big advocate of getting all the facts prior to injecting some unknown substance into my body just because somebody tells me I should.  Anyway, I read another great article on Dr. Mercola’s website about the Swine Flu (H1N1 virus) both presently and in the past and was inspired to at least share a few facts with you.  If you would like to read the full article, which I highly recommend, you can access it here:  ALERT: Special Swine Flu Update  There is a LOT of great information in this article, so please take the time to read the whole thing, you’ll be happy you did, and even if you don’t agree with the basic premise, it’s always good to hear both sides of the story!


To see the full size version (so you can actually read the facts) please click on the image above!!!

Till next time, stay healthy!


Tips To A Healthy Flu Season

October 11, 2009 Leave a comment
by, Eduard Titov

by, Eduard Titov

Flu season… yep, it’s here and on every corner there is a “Get your flu shot here” sign.  As far as vaccines go, well that’s a whole other discussion, but I thought I’d share some quick basics for preventing illness and making it through this season with your health intact.   On a side note, while I’m not going to get into the topic of the vaccine,  I think it’s important for us to be educated in the decisions we make regarding our health and this article does a good job of pointing out some interesting statistics about the flu vaccine:  Flu Vaccine Exposed 

Here are some quick and easy ways you can boost your immunity and prevent the flu this season…EO

  • Wash your hands whenever you can or for convenience sake, I just started carrying a bottle of hand sanitizer around with me.  I recommend EO, it has a nice lavender scent so you don’t smell like alcohol all day!
  • Elderberry is anti-viral and you can take it in tincture or pill form.  There was even a study published recently on its effectiveness in treating the infamous H1N1 virus; otherwise known as The Swine Flu.  Check it out here: Elderberry Flavanoids bind to and prevent H1N1 infection in vitro
  • Vitamin C, D, A & Zinc all boost the immune system
  • Antioxidants; don’t forget to eat your colorful fruits and veggies
  • Echinacea; I just got some yummy Immune boosting tea w/ Echinacea, Lemon & Ginger
  • Limit sugar
  • Don’t stress; nows a perfect time to get started on your Qi-gong practice if you don’t already have one!  There are lots of ways to limit stress, yoga, meditation, walking outdoors, & other forms of exercise just to name a few, for more info check out one of my previous posts Here
  • Get plenty of sleep; sleep is so important!
  • Drink lots of water and get lots of fluids to help flush out the body and keep hydrated
  • Limit dairy, as in Chinese Medicine, it creates a lot of phlegm, which creates a nice breeding ground for sickness.
  • Eat lots of garlic & ginger
  • YinQiaoSanAlso some good Chinese Formulas if you are starting to feel the beginning’s of a flu coming on:  Yin Qiao San, Gan Mao Ling or ‘Perilla Pearls’ (for more information on, the pearls click here to link)  **Of course, please consult your Acupuncturist when choosing the right formula!

So there you go, some quick bits of knowledge you can live by this flu season!  Here’s to a healthy season!  Take care!

Here is another great article on Boosting the Immune System using Chinese Medicine and another great Integrative Medicine Source with info from Naturopaths and Licensed Acupuncturists.

Sources: Aug 2009; Kuoch, David J. Acupuncture Desk Reference, Acumed West Inc., 2009

Back To School Means More Swine Flu Scare!

August 13, 2009 2 comments
by, crazy ray

by, crazy ray

With the start of school just around the corner, I’ve been reading, and hearing about the Swine Flu on just about every media outlet there is.  There is a lot of information out there and if you are un-informed then it does start to sound pretty scary.  Your health is important, just about the most important thing there is, and you should be knowledgeable about the decisions you make regarding it.  Dr. Mercola has posted another great article on the Swine Flu and specifically regarding kids going back to school and vaccines.  Make sure you get all the information before you make any rash decisions, it’s yours and your childs health and it shouldn’t be taken lightly!  Don’t be afraid to discuss these things with your doctor!

Squalene:  The Swine Flu Vaccine’s Dirty Little Secret Exposed

Source:, Aug 4, 2009

What to really think about the Swine Flu!

May 1, 2009 Leave a comment



Unless you are hiding under a rock or living in the wilderness without contact with anybody and therefore, clearly not reading this, it’s highly unlikely that you haven’t been subject to the next fear mongering pandemic called SWINE FLU sweeping across the nation and the world.  It’s inescapable; even as hard as I may try to not listen to the talk, the news and what not, I can’t seem to get away from this imminent ‘death threat’ lurking just south of the border. 

After the 20 plus emails I got with urgent headings informing me of the Swine Flu and how to protect myself from it or just to instill a little fear in me, I recieved the above picture from a friend, with the caption…. “Don’t do this”.  I had to laugh as we are so vulnerable to the fear that the media creates and we forget the real facts.  Which is why you should DEFINITELY read this article by Dr. Mercola to clear up some of the propoganda…  Critical Alert: The Swine Flu Pandemic – Fact or Fiction?

It’s really worth a look, it’s a little on the long side, but even if you don’t have time to read the whole thing, just look over the highlighted topics… it’s a little more realistic take on the actual state of our nation in regards to this pandemic.  Some interesting topics…

What is a Pandemic?

“A pandemic does not necessarily mean what you think it does, it is NOT black-plague carts being hauled through the streets piled high with dead bodies. Nor does it mean flesh eating zombies wandering the streets feeding on the living. All a pandemic means is that a new infectious disease is spreading throughout the world.Who is dying?”   Click here to read more

Should I get a vaccine? **you’ll be surprised to read that the possibility of death is probably higher from the vaccine than the actual flu**

Interestingly enough… this is not the first Swine Flu “The last time was in 1976”

Who is dying?

“As of May 1, 2009, 11 countries have officially reported 363 cases of influenza A(H1N1) infection and only ten deaths in the ENTIRE world from this illness. At this time ALL of the deaths are from people born in Mexico.

Why Mexico?  Well overcrowding, poor nutrition and overall poor immunity, all of which are indigenous to Mexico will radically increase your risk of death from almost any infection.”

Who is benefitting from a pandemic oubreak?

“More than half a dozen pharmaceutical companies, including Gilead Sciences Inc., Roche, GlaxoSmithKline and other companies with a stake in flu treatments and detection, have seen a rise in their shares in a matter of days, and will likely see revenue boosts if the swine flu outbreak continues to spread.

Swine flue is extremely convenient for governments that would have very soon have to dispose of billions of dollars of Tamiflu stock, which they bought to counter avian flu, or H5N1. “

So, while I encourage you to get all the information you can summon up before you make any rash decisions, I strongly suggest reading this article… the above snippets, are merely just that and they are taken out of context, but they are thoughts worth pondering!

Tamiflu & Flu Vaccines…

Of special importance is the section on the flu vaccine and tamiflu… he has a whole bunch of well backed up evidence informing you of the pros and cons (but mostly cons) of taking flu medicines and getting a vaccine… Wouldn’t you rather know what you’re getting yourself into before you just take somebodies word for it?

“Tamiflu Loaded With Side Effects, Including Death and Can Only Reduce Symptoms by 36 Hours at BEST”

“But let me tell you, getting vaccinated now would not only offer no protection and potentially cause great harm, it would most likely be loaded with toxic mercury which is used as a preservative in most flu vaccines.”

Just be smart and protect yourself!

Be smart and keep yourself in optimal health; you can do this by simply washing your hands, eating well, staying away from sugar and processed foods, get your vitamins, eat lots of garlic and if you feel tired… sleep!  And… most obviously keep your distance from sick people… it’s the number one way to contract an illness…  and last but certainly not least, try to resist kissing any pigs in the meanwhile!

Here’s to your health and wellbeing!

Source:; May 1st, 2009  Article:  Critical Alert: The Swine Flu Pandemic – Fact or Fiction?

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