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Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Moxibustion Stinks 

My throat is starting to itch some. While I guess it could be something really interesting like West Nile Virus or SARS, it's probably just the moxibustion therapy Evelin's acupuncturist has us trying. Moxa is this herb (also called mugwort) that is normally burned on acupuncture points before the point is stuck. My lay understanding of the theory is that it helps strengthen blood and draw qi to the point, making the acupuncture treatment more effective. Usually, the acupuncturist puts a ball of moxa on the skin, lights it with a piece of incense, and removes the smoldering ball as soon as it starts to feel hot to the patient. This process may be repeated several times before the needling occurs.

So the last time Evelin went in for a treatment, we were given this moxa cigar ("moxa in convenient stick form") that we're supposed to use each night. Basically, for about five minutes, I'm supposed to trace a slightly malformed figure of 8 across part of Evelin's lower back. The cigar then gets stamped out for reuse the next night. Among the instructions we were given was to disable the smoke detector before starting. While it hasn't triggered the alarm yet, there is a fair amount of smoke (we set a fan up to try and blow it out of the room, but that hasn't been too effective), and last night it seemed like more than usual. Maybe I'm allergic to moxa, or some cynicism about the therapy is manifesting itself as a sore throat and itchy eyes. But if helps, we'll keep using it.

A side note, on Sunday we ducked into the Smithsonian Museum of American History to try to escape the heat for a little while and there was a small exhibit about acupuncture ... and it included a big box of those moxa cigars.

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