Types of Moxibustion: Cone- Direct Moxibustion

Moxibustion therapy is mainly divided according to the kind of tool that is used, e.g. moxa cone, moxa stick, moxa box, fume moxa, sunlight moxa, etc.

I. Moxa-cone moxibustion

Moxa cone is a conical body made of moxa, which is generally divided into three types: large, medium and small. Its operation can be divided into two types: direct and indirect moxibustion.

Moxa cones
Moxa cones

1. Direct moxibustion
Direct moxibustion, also called direct contact moxibustion, is a method where a lit moxa is put directly on the skin. This method is characterized by direct contact between moxa and the skin and strong heat. Direct moxibustion can be further divided into three types: scarless moxibustion, scar moxibustion and blister moxibustion.

(1) Scarless moxibustion: 
Place moxa directly on the skin at the acupoint, ignite the tip of the moxa; as the moxa burns down, heat sensation on the skin gradually increases. When the moxa stick burns to about 2/3, or when the patient’s skin underneath feels excessive heat, the moxa should be replaced immediately to avoid burning the skin. This method applies best to chronic debilitating diseases.

Direct Moxibustion
Direct Moxibustion

(2) Scarring moxibustion: 
Compared with scarless moxibustion, this method features moxa not to be removed from the skin until it is completely burned out. Scarring moxibustion is more intense and requires producing purulence to achieve best treatment result, so it is also called blistering moxibustion. During the operation, in order to reduce patient’s pain, the skin around the moxibustion area could be patted gently to reduce the patient’s tension. Conditions not suitable for scarring moxibustion include physical weakness, diabetes, skin diseases, and acupoints on the face and joints. This method works well on asthma, pulmonary tuberculosis, epilepsy, ulcers and developmental disorders.

Scarring moxibustion
Scarring moxibustion

(3) Vesiculating moxibustion: 
Use small moxa cone for moxibustion; when moxa fire burns to the skin and the patient feels slight pain, it could either be suppressed immediately, or stay for 3 to 5 seconds more. A small piece of skin flush slightly larger than the moxa cone would appear, and accompanied by sweating; within 1 to 2 hours vesiculation would form. Do not break it, but let it be absorbed naturally. If the vesiculation is large, it could be pierced with a sterilized needle to let the liquid out, and then apply some gentian violet. This method is suitable for asthma, skin warts, dizziness, tuberculosis and so on.

Vesiculating moxibustion
Vesiculating moxibustion

What is moxibustion?

Moxibustion is a type of TCM therapy, which is usually mentioned in the same breath with acupuncture. Moxibustion refers to a natural remedy that stimulates acupoints on the body surface by use of mild heat of burning wormwood, which further stimulates function of the viscera and meridians within human body through meridian conduction, and regulates operation of the body’s Yin/Yang and Qi/Blood.

By performing moxibustion on different acupoints, not only can it treat and prevent diseases but also strengthen the body.

After thousands of years’ practice, it has been proved that moxibustion bears certain irreplaceable and unique advantages, and become an important means of health maintainance and disease treatment. It could only achieve function of systematic therapy when the medicinal and warming effects of moxibustion are applied on acupoints of meridians.

The following painting was from the Song Dynasty of China, which was painted around 1100AD. It depicted scene of a physician performing moxibustion on a patient.

Moxibustion Painting from 1100 AD
Moxibustion Painting from 1100 AD

The benefits of moxibustion are really difficult to express by words, it’s magical efficacy can only be discovered by experiencing it in person.

How to take good care of the kidneys? (II)

3. Diet regulation
Dietary regulation is mainly based on foods that nourish the kidneys, such as those of black color. 

Three foods are recommended here: black fungus, mulberry and black beans.

1) Black fungus:
Kidney tonification and detoxification. 

For people with kidney stone after lithotripsy, some doctors may advise them to eat more black fungus, which would help discharge the stones.

Contraindication: Black fungus could promote blood circulation, so patients with bleeding tendency should stay away from it. Since black fungus is rich in dietary fiber, people prone to diarrhea or of weak digestive function are not suitable for eating black fungus either.

Black fungus
Black fungus

2) Mulberry:
Kidney tonification, especially for the health of male reproductive system.

If man drank a little mulberry juice every day, it would improve vitality of the body and improve quality of sexual life. For infertile couples, if the male had symptoms of weak sperm, one could also eat more mulberry or drink more mulberry juice.

Contraindication: Women should be conservative, because mulberry is slightly cold in nature, one must eat less of it during menstruation.


3) Black bean:
According to “Compendium of Materia Medica”: regular eating of black beans would dispel all diseases. So black bean is not only good for kidneys, but also overall wellness of the body.

Contraindication: black beans soaked in vinegar tastes well, but may not be suitable for those allergic to plant proteins or of poor digestion.

Black bean
Black bean

How to take good care of the kidneys? (I)

Kidney deficiency can also lead to uremia. Here we will discuss how to nurse kidney deficiency by nourishing and protecting kidney.

1. Moxibustion 
day 1: Zhongwan, Zusanli acupoint
day 2: Mingmen, Shenque acupoint
day 3: Shenyu, Guanyuan acupoint
day 4: Yaoyangguan, Qihai acupoint

Perform moxibustion circularly among the above acupoints, note that the acupoints need to be determined according to the specific symptoms and condition of the patient.

Moxibustion time:
– 15 minutes of suspended moxibustion for adults and
– 40 to 50 minutes for moxibustion apparatus.

2. Dredge the kidney channel
In addition to moxibustion of the acupoints, one could dredge kidney channel in the leg from the bottom to top (from the Yongquan to root of the thighs), which would and also help regulate kidney problems and restore Kidney Yang.

Method: Use the thumb to press the Yongquan acupoint, push upward from Rangu till root of the thigh; do it 3-5 times until skin turns slightly red.

Kidney channel
Kidney channel

3 types of pain that may be early signals of kidney diseases

1.Low back pain
It is mentioned in TCM: “Waist is government of the kidney”. If kidney is not well, signs would be observed on the waist.

As uremia occurs, people usually feel low back pain; this is because the kidneys could not discharge toxins in a timely manner, which puts heavy burden on the body and kidneys. When the kidneys could no longer handle it, low back pain would happen.

Low back pain
Low back pain

2. Urinary pain
Urinary pain refers to the case where the urethra has a burning sensation when urinating. If a person urinated smoothly in the past and suddenly develop abnormalities such as dysuria, be alert as this may indicate kidney issues.

Human body would discharge toxins and wastes through the urine, and kidney is an important organ that disintegrate the toxins. At early stages of uremia, there may be pain when urinating because the kidneys has been compromised- the toxins are larger, and difficult to be discharged timely from the urine.

3. Headache
Impaired renal function could affect the whole body. Clinically, uremia patients often report headache, drowsiness, fatigue, etc. This is mainly due to influence of the toxins on brain cells to develop pathological changes, which may cause headache and other discomforts.

Modern people have also developed many bad habits that could cause kidney damages, such as staying up late, drinking, etc.


Life Saving Signs in Urine: Three Signals (II)

2. Urinal foam
Many men are probably going to wonder isn’t it not normal to have bubbles in the urine? Yes if the urinal foam is easily dissipated and of limited amount. 

Unusual bubbles:
However, if there is a lot of bubbles in the urine which do not disappear for a long time, then be alerted as it may be the message shy kidney sends you through urine.

Kidney diseases could cause urine protein, which increases surface tension of the urine and forms smaller, difficult-to-dissipate bubbles.

If you were concerned, it is best to go to the hospital and conduct a routine urine check,  or 24-hour urine protein quantification, any abnormalities could reveal whether it is proteinuria.

Urinal bubbles
Urinal bubbles

3. Frequent nightly restroom visit 

If anyone has to get up repeatedly to urinate at night, please beware of kidney disease.

There are some exceptions thought- for children under the age of 7 who are not yet fully physically developed, elderly with degenerative changes, and pregnant women, physiological nocturia may be normal. But healthy adults generally do not have such issues.

Life Saving Signs in Urine: Three Signals (I)

Human beings have two kidneys, and their functions are very powerful. They serve as filters in the body; each day they filter and clean about 200 liters of blood, and the filtered waste is discharged via the urine.


The kidneys are ‘introverts’ and not good at expressing themselves. Urine, however, acts like a “spokesperson” for the kidney. When the urine is abnormal, very likely it’s the kidney calling for help!

When kidney disease deteriorates to the advanced stage, uremia can occur. Uremic disease is a common clinical syndrome of various advanced kidney diseases and is the end stage of the development of chronic kidney failure, which could severely affect a patient’s physical health and quality of life, and has a high mortality rate.

Here we will impart two tricks to discern early signals of kidney disease:
1. Observe the urine;
2. Look out for three types of pain

Three signals revealed by urine

1) Urine color

1. Normal color:
Normal urine generally have clear appearance when water supply is sufficient; otherwise the color will become light yellow. Normal urine has a light ammonia smell, but it is nothing pungent. 

2. Abnormal colors:
Color of red, meat washing water, and brown could all be indicators of kidney disease. “Meat washing water color” can be literally understood as color of diluted blood after pork is washed .

3. Pseudo hematuria:
However, sometimes after eating foods of heavy pigment such as pitaya (aka the dragon fruit), beet, mulberry, red urine could also be observed. This is called “pseudo hematuria”, which is normal.

So if color of the urine changes significantly, one should think about what foods has been eaten lately, and see if there would be any improvement in the next few days.

Urine color comparison
Urine color comparison

4. How to distinguish between true and false hematuria?
Honestly it is hard to tell the difference. If still no significant change in urine was observed in a few days, it is best to go to the hospital for a urine test.

The test standard is whether there are red blood cells in the urine. For pseudo hematuria, urine test is normal and without red blood cells; if  caused by kidney disease, urine test will indicate a lot of red blood cells.

Red blood cells
Red blood cells

How to dispel moisture and lose weight?

Here we recommend a few acupoints that could help dispel moisture and lose weight, please feel free to press them at home.

1. Zhongwan Acupoint
– CV 12 Acupuncture Point
– English Name: Central Venter

The Zhongwan acupoint is intersection of the viscera. The spleen and stomach interact with each other. They work together to neutralize excessive moisture within the body. Therefore, massaging Zhongwan acupoint can effectively invigorate the spleen, dispel cold and moisture, and protect the stomach. 

 Zhongwan- CV 12 Acupoint- Central Venter
Zhongwan- CV 12 Acupoint- Central Venter

2. Fenglong Acupoint
– ST 40 Acupuncture Point
– English Name: Beautiful Bulge

TCM theory states that spleen is the source of phlegm, for various factors causing spleen and stomach disorder, stagnation of water and moisture, and the accumulation of phlegm, they can all be solved by massaging the Fenglong acupoint. Fenglong acupoint bears the function of dispelling moisture, and it can effectively remove the dampness turbidity when coordinated with the long-term massage of Zusanli (ST-36).

Fenglong acupoint- ST 40-  Beautiful Bulge
Fenglong acupoint- ST 40- Beautiful Bulge

3. Xuehai acupoint
– SP 10 Acupuncture Point
– English Name: Sea of Blood

Xuehai acupoint belongs to the Foot Taiyin Spleen Meridian, is an important acupuncture point for treating blood symptoms. Xuehai acupoint carries function as nourish blood and promote blood circulation, strengthen spleen and dispel dampness, dispel wind and arrest itching, and is an important acupoint for prevention of diseases. If massaging the Xuehai point for one minute every day, efficacy of dampness dispelling would be very good.

Xuehai Acupoint - SP 10 - English Name: Sea of Blood
Xuehai Acupoint – SP 10 – English Name: Sea of Blood

A crucial cause of obesity- excessive moisture (II)

Do you know the phlegm and fat are of the same type in TCM?

Moisture is produced by spleen deficiency. Usually moisture is stored in the lungs.

Moisture is first stored in the lungs, and then morph into phlegm, which fills every alveoli, but the air breathed in by the lungs could vaporize the phlegm and exhale it out of the body. This process is called gasification. 

Moisture and fat are closely related, which are both called dampness in TCM. They are also prey of gasification of the lungs. The Lung Qi fills throughout the body; the more abundant the Qi, the faster the moisture is vaporized; When Lung Qi enters the blood, a mixture called ‘Qi and Blood’ is formed, and the more plentiful the Qi and Blood, the more fat can be gasified and burned.

This would help understand a common misconception in weigh loss.

Overweight people generally have symptoms like spleen deficiency and Qi and Blood deficiency. If all body fat within their body are extracted, they will be super skinny. Assume an individual of 140 pounds of body weight, and consists of 70 pounds of fat and the remaining  70 pounds bone, muscle and blood. This is a very weak body, which does not have sufficient Qi to gasify the overwhelming fat.

For overweight people who are physically weak, when practicing a weight loss program that includes both diet and exercises, both of which actually impair the already weak body. This is why these programs rarely work long term and rebound is all too common. If only impairing was done, eventually it would cause more diseases while not much weight is lost. The correct method is to enhance the body while rid the fat, which includes properly regulating the spleen and stomach so as to increase Qi and Blood, thereby enhancing body’s ability to vaporize moisture and eventually ‘burn’ body fat in the right way.

In summary:

  1. First of all, fat is caused by spleen deficiency.
  2. Moisture give rise to spleen deficiency
  3. It is only through combination of spleen invigoration, moisture dispelling, Qi and Blood enhancement, can weight loss be healthy and sustainable.

For people whose obesity is caused by moisture, their weight loss program should start from these three aspects.

A crucial cause of obesity- excessive moisture (I)

Some people would become obese even if only drinking water, and some can’t lose weight no matter how hard he/she tries. One possible cause is their obesity belongs to a type known as puffiness, which is caused by heavy Moisture- a crucial concept of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In the next series of posts we will take a look at how moisture in human body is turned into fat and lead to obesity. Granted this is from perspective of TCM.

How does moisture come into being?

Within human body, there are two organs that process water, one is the kidney and the other the spleen. The kidneys likes water, while the spleen prefers to stay dry.

Yang of Kidney could react with nutrition in food, generate heat to maintain body temperature, and evaporate water upward within the body. It is the ability of the kidney to distribute water throughout the body. The spleen governs the intestines and stomach, absorbs interior water into the blood, and the blood would transport water back to the kidneys, where some of these water is made into urine, thus forming circulation of body fluids.

Normal vs. Obese

For healthy people, the strength of the kidneys and spleen is more or less equal, but what if the spleen is deficient?

Then massive water dampness, or moisture would accumulate in body at large quantities, the tongue would be large and swollen due to excessive soaked in water, and covered with thick and white coating, plus there would be scallops on the edges of the tongue. Such moisture is usually piled up in the lower abs and legs; when they are mixed up with fat, it would make people look even more obese. There would also be a lot of water dampness in the stool, i.e. diarrhea, loose stool, and shapeless stool.

These water could pile up very quickly. Some weight-loss formulas use diuretic methods to increase the body’s water discharging capacity, which could become effective quickly. However, it only cures the symptoms; once the formulas are stopped, the lost weight would come back in no time, and this will be harmful to body as it compromises immunity and make people more susceptible to catching a cold.