Many of our patients are familiar with moxibustion: burning mugwort on acupuncture points to dispel cold, alleviate pain, and even turn breech babies. But once a year, we use something called San Fu Moxa.
San Fu loosely translates to heavenly or celestial moxibustion. Every year during the “dog days” of summer, there is a tradition of applying a paste of warming herbs to points on the back to support immunity in the coming winter. Preventing illness is a cornerstone of Chinese Medicine. Here, we’re preventing Winter disease by treating you in the summertime.
We call this San Fu Moxibustion. Instead of mugwort, we grind warming herbs and apply them as a paste to points on the back associated with the lungs. This year caught me off guard, and we missed the first day, but it’s not too late. Even 1-2 treatments can support lung health. It’s a traditional treatment for the prevention of allergic rhinitis, bronchitis, and asthma. This tradition has never been more critical than right now! Learn more about the research on this therapy.
This traditional treatment has been used since the Qing Dynasty, the warmth of the herbs penetrates the body. San Fu refers to three 10-day periods that are predicted to be the year’s hottest days – what we call “the dog days of summer.”
Here’s the schedule:
2022 July 16, July 26, August 5, August 15
Also, enjoy this terrific video explaining the therapy: I don’t think I could do better!
We grind and sift the herbs, and then we combine them with water or ginger juice to form a paste, which is secured on the back with a bandage. The herbs can be left on the skin for several hours. In younger children, 20-30 min hours will suffice. We generally don’t use this on anyone under 2 years old.
Some of the traditional herbs used are difficult to procure now, so I’ve created my own blend.
We are looking to create a blister or skin reaction. This is normal and is a positive response. It helps the herbs penetrate the body. Everyone has a different reaction. Some common responses you can expect:
- localized redness, itching or blistering where the plaster is applied
- feverishness or flu-like symptoms that can last up to 24 hours
It’s common to have a red dot that resembles sunburn for a few hours afterward. Blistering can take up to 3 days to emerge and may not even occur.
Here’s a picture of my back from last summer. I had left the Moxa on for about 6 hours and I developed itching and redness that abated after 2-3 days.
Home care includes:
- Remove the San Fu applications after 6 hours or if they start to become overly hot and itchy – whichever comes first.
- Clean the skin with soap and water and gently pat the skin dry with a clean cloth or towel.
- If blisters appear, treat them as you would with any normal blister. Keep the area clean, and once the fluid comes out, do not remove the top layer of skin. Keep the wound clean at all times and cover with a bandage during the day to keep it protected. Feel free to use an antibiotic or a topical ointment such as bacitracin or Neosporin. We have safe and effective Chinese herbal ointments on hand for you at the office.
We’re charging $25 for each visit. The clock is ticking- so please book now!?