Nice article on the benefits of moxa, a modality I love. Moxa is typically in stick form and is the comprised mainly of the herb, mugwort (Ai Ye). The heat and properties of this herb can very beneficial towards healing.
Moxibustion helps runner Alex Rowell prepare for the Bolder Boulder
By Joyce Davis For the Reporter-Herald
Posted: 05/18/2013 01:51:54 PM MDT
For centuries, acupuncture has been a form of healing. Originating 5,000 years ago in China, it's the oldest healing process known to mankind. Recognizing a vital energy force within the body called qi (chi), acupuncture considers illness a blockage that must be removed by manipulation of needles at specific points within meridians of the body. As balance and harmony of chi is restored, symptoms of the illness disappear.
Acupuncture treatments are designed to make the body strong and resistant, says James Damman, certified acupuncturist and instructor, who has offices in Loveland and Louisville. "It helps the body's natural ability to heal itself."
Owner of Acubalance, Damman is a graduate of the University of Michigan and for 12 years has served as deputy clinical director at the Institute of Taoist Education and Acupuncture in Louisville.
Acupuncture tends to health on all levels and helps in make better choices along our life path, he says.
"It's important when deciding treatment to look at the whole person and what's going on in an individual's everyday life. It's not a one-size-fits-all 'cookbook style' treatment," he says. "We look at how you feel, how you sleep, how your digestion works and many other things before we decide how to proceed."
When his friend Alex Rowell, a Loveland chiropractic doctor, turned to Damman for help with his knee, a process called moxibustion seemed to offer the best fix. By burning tiny cones made of the herb moxa (mugwort), and placing them on the specific acupuncture points, circulation is stimulated, the site is warmed and the chi flows smoothly.
Damman says it's a type of acupuncture that works well with people with knee problems. "It's helpful for trauma of any kind -- past injury or people who have had joint replacements and still feel a tightness or discomfort," he says. "Using moxibustion is helpful to relax the tendons. It's very warming and prepares the area for needling."
Damman employs needling during the procedure, which means that the needle is inserted and quickly removed, as opposed to other acupuncture processes that leave the needles in for a period of time before removal.
"It's a longer procedure and there's a lot of smoke, but it's very healing -- a communion with body and spirit," he says.
Damman is quick to note that moxibustion is an aid and not a cure-all. Relief is temporary and it's not going to take the place of a (knee) replacement," he says. "But it can accelerate the healing in addition to physical therapy. It's very cool to see and to feel -- kind of a magical thing, actually."
Rowell, who describes himself as "a typical male in my 50s with bad knees," says his right knee is bothered by running. Because he's run the Bolder Boulder 10K since 2005, he hoped for a boost in that knee's flexibility and strength before this year's Memorial Day run.
"I'm not in a lot of pain, but it's not as flexible as I'd like," he says, noting that Damman's acupuncture treatments have helped loosen up the joint.
The treatment partners well with Rowell's chiropractic beliefs. "Even when you're walking, there's some micro trauma to your body. To run, you have to traumatize it even a little more," he says. In addition to acupuncture, Rowell is treated by his own chiropractor and combines them all with ChiRunning, a program that employs the principles of T'ai Chi in the running process.
"It's all about running with proper form and alignment," Rowell says.
That meshes with Damman's acupuncture, which focuses on the total body.
"A person's gait, how the hip, the neck, are held, the alignment of the back -- it all has an effect," he says. "With acupuncture, we provide a gateway for the physical, mental and emotional sense of well-being."
Acupuncture also can help with stress and depression as well as pain. "Many people come in for a tune-up for a variety of these things," Damman notes. "It's a wonderful way to help them move through life with comfort."
Joyce Davis is a freelance writer who lives in Longmont. She can be reached email@example.com.
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In Kiiko style acupuncture (a Japanese style of acupuncture handed down over generations), it teaches that ofttimes when acupuncture points that you feel should work but do not, there is a blockage in the body that is preventing the healing process.
I have been working on a patient recently who has some unusual medial knee pain. The pain started above the joint and extended a few inches up the leg. I am pretty sure it is not meniscus related but with some testing could not really differentiate between the gracilis or quad tendons in that area. The patient told me that they have using the leg press and leg adductor machines at the gym and that the pain is worse when moving the leg into a sitting-cross-legged position. The patient had first tried to self-treat by using moxa (herbal heat) and herbal patches but with little result. When I first saw this patient her chief complaint was actually back pain, but the knee issue came up and we began to treat them concurrently.
After several visits, the back pain was reduced significantly, but the knee pain was pretty stubborn and the pain reduction was insignificant.
In keeping with Kiiko's teachings, I re-checked the patient's basic constitution and found that the "adrenal" points (trigger points in a sense) were quite sensitive. So far, with several treatments behind us, I am finding that addressing the adrenals (calming the "fight or flight" response) has been thee most effective in reducing the patient's pain. Each visit has ended with the patient unable to replicate the pain. The pain comes back in a few days, but has been less with each visit. Stuff like this is what makes acupuncture so fascinating. Why would this work? It wouldn't surprise me in the least that with our stressful lifestyles, it is inhibiting our natural abilities to heal. A good reminder to find the time to slow down whether it be through qigong, meditation, tai qi, or as simple as taking the time to sit down with a good book.
My patient is still continuing to see me and I am excited to see how we progress in the next few weeks.
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