Sunday, February 08, 2009

I'm on Fire


I first learned about moxibustion (okyuu in Japanese) back in high school when I was studying kung fu. At the time I also took some Chinese healing classes, acupuncture, the 12 pulses, herbs and of course the traditional Chinese/Japanese practice of placing small pinches of mugwort on certain acupuncture points and lighting them on fire to warm -- hence stimulate -- the circulation of blood and qi.

Direct moxa is when the mugwort is set directly onto the acupuncture point. Indirect moxa being when something is placed between the moxa and skin -- a slice of ginger, garlic, some salt or even mud. Sometimes even acupuncture needles are tipped with burning bits of the herb.

Back in high school and college it was such a big deal. But here in Japan it is just something people do, like gargling, putting a band aide on a cut, or sticking little magnets all over their bodies (oh, okay, that's an idea for another post). But you get the idea.

We use pedestal moxa. This seems to be the most prevalent used-at-home variety. Here are some different, um, flavors.

There's garlic, ginger, even miso. I'm not exactly sure what the different fragrances do, what's good for what. We just buy 'regular'.

In the directions they have a chart that shows you all the points you can use moxabustion and then a list of what points are good for what ailments. There are a series of points to burn for revitalizing yourself, increasing blood flow, relieving stiff shoulders, and helping your stomach and intestines work better.

A bazillion of them come in a box and they look like this:

They all have little stickers on their bottoms, so they don't slide off and, well, set the dog on fire or something. I imagine that might have been a problem back in the day.

So all you have to do is research your pain, locate the points, sticks these puppies all over yourself and have someone you really trust light them of fire. You keep that trusted person nearby because before long they get crazy-hot and you'll need him or her to bat them off into an ashtray or something.
Voila'! You're all better.

Here's the child on fire.

Up close with a cat hair trapped underneath.

Here's the hole I burned in the carpet when I tried to knock one of them off and only the top 'on fire' part fell, missed the plate all together, bounced off J's crotch, and landed on the floor.

"What smells good?"
And dog rolling in stinky smell. Happy, happy, happy. Glad I could help.

There is only one problem I can see with okyuu though. No, it's not the scarred skin or holes burnt in carpets. It's the smell. Just now I left the room and came back and said, "Which one of you was smoking the ganja, mahn?"
I'm serious. It smells exactly...and I mean exactly like marijuana.