Moxibustion is one type of hyperthermia therapy method that originated in ancient China in about 2,200 years ago. The method was brought to Japan along with acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine around the 6th century.
The Japanese word for moxibustion is ‘okyu’ (お灸) and the definition is ‘putting fire with the help of incense to ‘mogusa’ (艾=mugwort). It is used to stimulate acupuncture points on the body with a small amount of heat directly applied to the body with the help of “mogusa.”
Japanese mogusa is made from the leaves of the mugwort plant.
Due to the numerous qualities of mogusa, it has been used in many kinds of products, but only 3 percent of the total weight of the finest leaves of mugwort can be used. From 270kg of mugwort leaves you can only use 900g.
Collected mugwort can be dried at high temperatures such as 80 ℃ to 90 ℃ for about 5 hours. Later, it is finely ground in a millstone, before it is filtered using a machine called ”toumi” (唐箕).
Chinese moxibustion and Japanese moxibustion differ due to the quality of the mogusa, the difference in size and the different treatment method.
Example sizes used to stimulate one acupuncture point are equal to one rice grain or half a rice grain and are therefore extremely tiny.
Regarding the quality of Japanese mogusa before it is put on the body, it is still as fluffy as cotton candy .
It is twisted by fingers, formed into a narrow long pyramid and put on the desired acupuncture point. Then the incense is lit on fire and used as a tool to light the top of the mogusa. Then the fire slowly burns down the mogusa and for one second or less the heat touches the body’s skin and stimulates the acupuncture point.
The usage of incense in Japan started about 150 years ago. It is said that monks in Osaka have used incense to ignite mogusa for the first time.
The technique of burning mogusa is to put it off until it burns off and sometimes leaves and garlic slices have even been used in between the mogusa and the body.
In recent years, due to the health and beauty boom, it has become popular to avoid leaving traces of moxibustion on the body, which is normal since its heat plays a part in treating the skin.
Moxibustion is also ideal to improve blood flow and to take care of the whole body. It is used to treat minor problems such as a common cold but also major medical treatments such as infertility, various gastrointestinal diseases and others.
If you should ever come to Japan, do not hesitate to try out this ancient Japanese traditional medicine.