Iron Moxa

Toru Kodama treats a patient with Iron Moxa

Iron Moxa is a unique union of Japanese massage and moxibustion, a traditional Chinese therapy using moxa, or mugwort herb. Its significant benefits include relieving fatigue, improving circulation, easing neuralgia (nerve) and muscle pain, and boosting gastrointestinal function. Iron Moxa can also be used for facial rejuvenation treatment, as its combination of gentle heat and pressure can help to press out wrinkles (“Iron” Moxa relates to both the material of the tool and the idea of a press – think of a clothes iron).

Moxibustion is one of the oldest therapies used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and is based on the application of heat supplied by burning Chinese mugwort herb, a member of the daisy family and closely related to sage, common mugwort and wormwood. The mugwort is usually aged and ground up to a fluff.  Practitioners can burn the fluff itself but it is usually processed further into a cigar-shaped stick. This is lit and can be used indirectly by holding over specific areas close to the skin, or attached to acupuncture needles, or small pieces directly applied on acupuncture points with an herbal ointment.

Moxa, with its heat and the release of the essential oils it contains (such as cineole and thujone, flavonoids, triterpenes and coumarin derivatives), changes the blood chemistry. White blood cell counts increase immediately after a moxa treatment, and peak 8 hours after the treatment. The levels will decline slightly, but remain elevated for up to five days after the treatment. Red blood cells and hemoglobin also increase.   And moxa treatment produces histotoxin, a substance that is absorbed into the blood, and enhances immune function with an increase in leukocytes.

To practice Iron Moxa, the mugwort stick is lit and put inside a special tool. The bottom of the tool is smooth metal with a rounded, bell-like shape that conveys the warmth of the moxa. Attached to this is a hollow handle made of wood. The practitioner applies Iron Moxa by rubbing the tool over a patient’s body and face like massage tool. Patients experience significant relief from tension.

The advantage of Iron Moxa is that it combines massage and moxa. Warmth from the moxa, along with the volatile medicinal oils released by the heat, infiltrate through the body, soothing and relaxing the patient. The warmth can penetrate to a deeper level in the body than other heat therapies, and this interior warming helps boost the immune system and purify blood into a weak alkaline state for enhanced cell metabolism.

Widely practiced in Japan, Iron Moxa is relatively new in the West and quickly gaining acceptance as a beneficial therapy.

Toru Kodama, licensed acupuncturist, is a new practitioner at AcQpoint Wellness Center in La Quinta. Owner Diane Sheppard is a licensed acupuncturist with a Ph.D. in Oriental Medicine and is now a staff practitioner at Eisenhower Wellness Institute. Contact: 760-775-7900

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