About Okyu

The common term “moxa” is derived from the Japanese “moghusa,” also referred to as “yomogi” or Artemisia princeps (Japanese mugwort), which has been used for centuries throughout East Asia, Tibet and Mongolia. Okyū meaning Moxibustion refers to the burning of moxa, whether it be Japanese mugwort (Artemisia princeps) or mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), on specific points on the body so as to strengthen the blood and qi energy which offers the foundation to our life force.

“A disease that may not be treated by acupuncture may be treated by moxibustion” Chapter 73, Lingshu Jing (Classic of the Miraculous Pivot), one of the earliest medical cannons of Traditional Chinese Medicine complied between 770-221 BC. Read more on History

Moxa is administered in several ways. It is used as an ingestible supplement in both Chinese traditional medicine and Ayurvedic medicine. Moxibustion, the art of burning moxa, is administered in three ways: directly on top of the skin and indirectly on top of slices of either garlic or ginger buffering the skin, or via moxa sticks that never touch the skin. Direct moxibustion generates limited healing results and has the tendency to leave a temporary scar on the skin. Indirect moxibustion has a range of results depending on the modality used. Stick moxa is less refined in quality and provides for temporary relief of symptoms and helps expel excess qi. Ginger moxibustion generates a lower frequency of heat waves as compared to garlic moxibustion. Garlic moxibustion has been traditionally used most effectively to address diseases and chronic symptoms from the root and restore health and well being.

Studies have shown* that indirect moxa application over slices of garlic produces infrared waves that are deeply absorbed by the body and its accompanying physiological and biochemical effects. Also, there has been considerable interest within the international scientific community to study the beneficial effect of moxibustion in fighting cancer, HIV and liver dysfunction. Some of you in the West might be most familiar with the 1998 study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association*, regarding the effect of moxibustion on breech presentation babies, whereby 75% of the pregnant women in the study had breech fetuses that turned into the normal position. (*References below)

It has been shown, when moxibustion is administered over garlic, the heat generated as well as the properties of the moxa can work to:

  • heal via the spectrum of near-infrared frequency waves optimally absorbable by the body
  • increase production of white blood cell count sustainable over several weeks
  • gradually increase red blood cell and hemoglobin production sustainable over several months
  • improve blood and lymph circulation
  • decrease inflammation
  • decease levels of magnesium and increase levels of calcium in injured tissue
  • strengthen adrenal gland function
  • heal chronic conditions from root causes
  • nourish and strengthen internal organs
  • strengthen eye sight and capacity to restore the senses
  • expel cold and dampness
  • reverse stagnation and misalignment
  • restore qi energy
  • boost the immune system and prevent disease
  • strengthen one’s health and well being

History of Okyū

Hieroglyphics and various documents reveal the fact that moxa has been used for over 3000 years in China. It is also apparent how interconnected moxa has been with acupuncture in medical practice through the ages. In fact, the original Chinese characters denoting “acupuncture” (zhenjiǔ ) literally translate as “acupuncture” (zhēn) and “moxibustion” jiǔ, two complementary techniques together forming one fundamental approach to health. In Japan, moxibustion has been extensively developed as a distinct practice over the ages. Various schools of medicine have regarded moxibustion as being highly effective, in par with acupuncture or even yet of greater value when treating specific ailments. Moxibustion has been widely practiced for therapeutic effects and was a rage among commoners in the Edo period (1603-1867). In this era, treatment of moxibustion became an annual event to maintain health, while detailed information on cultivation, preservation, and preparation of Japanese mugwort for moxibustion were recorded.

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Select References:
* “Moxibustion for correction of breech presentation: a randomized controlled trial” by Cardini and Weixin in Journal of the American Medical Association. 280 (18):1580-1584, 1998
* “How Does Moxibustion Work Scientifically?” in Acupuncture Today 6(2), Feb. 2005
* Alternative Medicine: Expanding Medical Horizons. A Report to the National Institutes of Health on Alternative Medical Systems and Practices in the United States. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1994. NIH publication 94-066
* “Analgesic Action of Acupuncture and Moxibustion: A Review of Unique Approaches in Japan” by Okada and Kawakita, Department of Physiology, Meiji University of Oriental Medicine, Kyoto (Reviewed in Oxford Journal, Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Aug. 27, 2007)
* “An infrared radiation study of the biophysical characteristics of traditional moxibustion” by Shen et.al. in Complementary Therapies in Medicine 14: 213-219, 2006
* “Research on the Measuring and Duplication Techniques of Spectrum of the Moxibustion in Traditional Chinese Medicine” by Hong Wenxue et.al. in Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, 2005
* “Biophotonics in the infrared spectral range reveal acupuncture meridian structure of the body” in Journal of Alternative Complementary Medicine 11 (1):171-3, Feb. 2005. Report by International Institute of Biophysics, Landesstiftung Hombroich, Neuss, Germany
* Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen: Nature, Knowledge, Imagery in an Ancient Chinese Medical Text by P.U. Unschuld, Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 2003
* Medicine in China: History of Pharmaceutics by P.U. Unschuld, Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1986
* “Research on the Benefits of Moxibustion” by Tohya Kazou, Ph.D., North American Journal of Oriental Medicine, Nov. 2002
* “The Advantages and Disadvantages of Artemisia princeps and A. Montana” in Japanese Journal of History of Pharmacy 35(1):55-62.
* The Foundations of Chinese Medicine: A Comprehensive Text for Acupuncturists and Herbalists by Maciocia G., New York: Churchill Livingstone, 1989
* Chinese Materia Medica: Chemistry, Pharmacology and Applications by Zhu Y., Amsterdam: Harwood Academic Publishers, 1998.
* Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion edited by Qiu Mao-liang, Philadelphia: Elsevier Health Sciences, 1993
* The Practice of Japanese Acupuncture and Moxibustion by Ikeda Masakazu, Seattle: Eastland Press, 2005