Things to Avoid When Doing Moxa: #1
First and foremost, by all means avoid using the rigid, compressed smokeless rolls made by a special charcoal process. These can be a disaster!
Many years ago, in the mid 1980’s, I made the mistake of using these carbonized smokeless moxa sticks, which are unfortunately still on the market and even being sold by Lhasa OMS. While treating one patient with indirect moxa on his back shu points, the moxa stick exploded and hurtled a glowing red hot ember onto my patient’s back.
The reason why this occurred I learned thereafter is because sometimes a bit of water is trapped inside the carbonized stick during the manufacturing process, and when that moisture is exposed to heat, it vaporizes into an expanding gas which serves a s a propellant to shoot the carbonized missile forward. The Chinese were always good at fireworks.
Anyways, without a moment’s hesitation, I snatched the glowing moxa coal off my patient’s back with the index finger and thumb of my left hand, searing my own flesh but minimizing the burn on my patient. I immediately applied Ching Wan Hung to my patient and put a little Band-Aid over his afflicted area. He thought it was all part of the treatment and no burn mark, discomfort, or scarring ensued for him – and no major malpractice lawsuit befell me.
Parenthetically, I was once called as an expert witness in another case in which a patient’s leg had been severely burned by an indirect moxa stick. The patient required a skin graft, and the practitioner and his liability carrier were responsible for $50,000 in damages.
As for my own scorched fingers, I embalmed them in Ching Wan Hung and wrapped them in gauze. Within minutes the searing pain had stopped. I replaced both gauze and ointment every 24 hours, which is its preferred method of use when treating burns with Ching Wan Hung, and within a week my fingers were as good as new with no sign of scarring. This personal testimonial is representative of comments many of my patients have told me and is why Ching Wan Hung is considered a state national treasure in China.
I’ve tested the compressed charcoal smokeless moxa sticks again (but not on patients) and have found them to be very iffy. Sometimes they explode or break off suddenly; sometimes they don’t. So I stay away from them altogether. Instead I use the Hand Power rigid compressed smokeless moxa sticks from Japan that are not carbonized.
I’ve not had any trouble with them doing indirect moxa. Actually they are not smokeless, but the smoke is much less than with a traditional moxa roll.