Moxibustion—a traditional Chinese healing technique that involves burning substances near acupuncture points—is a safe treatment for menstrual cramps if used correctly. It uses moxa-wool made from the dried leaves of the mugwort plant. In addition to relieving menstrual cramps and regulating menstruation, it can reduce pain from injuries, such as sprains, and ease muscle spasms or weakness associated with chronic fatigue.

A study in The Journal of the American Medical Association showed that moxibustion also could help turn" unborn babies who were in breech position prior to delivery.

How It Works

The moxa-wool is rolled up in special paper to create a moxa stick that resembles a cigar. One end is lit and then the smoldering tip is held an inch away from the painful area or associated acupuncture points, without touching the skin, for five to 10 minutes.

According to Chinese medicine traditions, when moxa is burned, its unique vapors enter the body via the skin and acupuncture points, opening the meridians (energy pathways). This regulates blood and qi (the body's life energy), expels cold and dampness, warms the uterus and increases circulation specifically to the pelvic area.

Also, the warmth of the smoldering moxa relieves stagnation or cold in the blood and improves the flow of qi.

For maximum effectiveness and safety, see a licensed acupuncturist, who will direct the moxa stick at specific acupuncture points, depending on the diagnosis. Thereafter, you can do moxibustion on yourself as needed by pointing the moxa stick at the exact area of pain--though you should stop immediately if the skin turns pink or feels very hot.

Caution: Moxibustion is not recommended for anyone who is overheated or running a fever.

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