Do you feel you can’t disconnect from the “to do” list in your head?
Too many tabs open in your mind?
Do you suffer from stress-related disorders, such as anxiety, overthinking, insomnia?
Do you clench your jaws a lot or grind your teeth, especially when under pressure or when asleep?
The multi-tasking skills and the ability to work in a stressful and demanding environment, so much appreciated these days, can be quite damaging for our physical and mental health, especially if we don’t do something to log-off once the day is over.
The Qi flows where attention goes. This is the fundamental principle of the ancient Taoist healing arts. A touch on the body will direct the attention towards that stimulus, and the Qi will flow towards that point or area. This is how the practitioner redirects the Qi in a certain area. Once the Qi arrives in the designated place, all we have to do is work with that Qi to disperse a stagnation causing pain, support and nourish a deficient area, or send away excessive Qi.
The same principle of the Qi flowing where the attention is focused can be applied to any physical, mental, emotional and cognitive activities we perform consciously. The mental and cognitive activities especially will guide our Qi towards the upper part of our bodies, commanding our hands and fingers to type, our eyes to search for certain words and images, our ears listen and our mouths speak, and our brains are busy researching and processing the information received.
Although our bodies might not move much, we still perceive this time spent at the desk, in front of our computers or speaking over the phone as being very active and busy.
According to the theory of the Five Elements, this type of mental activity that requires a lot of reasoning, logical thinking, memorising, and learning new things is related to the Earth Element in our body, the same Element that governs our digestion and our muscles and it is responsible for our nourishment.
It is no surprise then that physical symptoms such as tight jaws and grinding teeth can be found more often in people with very stressful jobs and lives, who worry about everything, overthink things and find it difficult to disconnect. The muscles involved in clenching the jaws and grinding the teeth are the same muscles that we use when we eat, to chew down the food for an easier digestion. The same muscles are also responsible for a lot of the headaches and migraines, as well as TMJ and vision problems, because when tightened for a long time, they will use a lot of the Blood that was meant to reach the brain and the eyes, instead it got used by these overactive muscles.
These are the people who will express themselves using phrases like: “too much on my plate”, “I find that are hard to digest” and they have a hard time delegating some of their responsibilities to others.
These are the same people who excel at keeping things remarkably organised and having a brilliant ability to reason and think logically, provided they learn to disconnect and log-off.
If you find yourself in this category of people, then Off With Your Head is for you.
Off With Your Head is built on the foundation of my head massage routine, a very popular massage with all my clients and with amazing results for both physical and mental health.
Off With Your Head is a guided self-care routine that combines mindfulness, breathing, massage and acupressure, and it has been designed especially for the people who
wish to disconnect and turn off the mental chatter
suffer from tight jaws, TMJ, teeth grinding
suffer from migraines, headaches, vertigo, vision problems, tinnitus
wish to experience a deeply relaxing massage in the comfort of their own home
wish to embark on the beautiful journey of self-care and wellness
Off With Your Head is more than just a head massage, it is a luxurious, complex procedure of more than 40 steps built on the foundations of scalp reflexology, acupressure, ear acupressure, massage and lifting that covers
Guaranteed to log off your head after a long day in just 45 minutes
Off With Your Head is available for you to experience in two forms at very convenient prices:
Guided live group sessions £5 (per person)
Guided live private sessions £10 (for households)
The sessions can be organised on any online platform at your convenience: Facebook Rooms, Facebook Messenger, Google Meet, Google Hangouts, Skype, Zoom, etc
Off With Your Head is by no means a substitute for medical treatment
Off With Your Head is designed to be very safe and with minimal negative side effects
Because it is designed on the basis of reflexology and acupressure, it is possible to experience a healing crisis after a few regular sessions
Please continue to take your regular medication, even if your initial symptoms have improved
Please wash your hands thoroughly before the session begins
Please ensure your own safety during the sessions and always work within your own level of mobility and comfort
Do not perform the massage with long fingernails
Do not perform the massage using oils or essential oils, or with make-up on
Do not perform the massage on open wounds, skin disorders, rashes or bone fractures
The practitioner cannot be held liable for self-inflicted injuries while performing the Off With Your Head routine
The Off With Your Head routine has been designed as a self-massage treatment, do not attempt to perform it on other people
As a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner, the most frequent question I get from the people I treat for the first time is
What is this this moxa/moxibustion?
The term moxa comes from a Japanese word that translates as burning herb. Basically, moxibustion is heat therapy by burning herbs and it is an intrinsic part of traditional Chinese medicine.
Across the ages, application of heat has proven to be one of the most
effective forms of treatment devised by humans. Some cultures enjoyed the
blessings of thermal waters, others applied hot stones to painful areas, yet others
used the power of herbs to alleviate pain and would burn them to heal wounds.
Even to this day we make use of warm patches and warm cushions to
alleviate pain and discomfort, not to mention the wonderful benefits of a nice
warm bath after a long day.
Contemporary Western medicine uses cauterisation procedures, which imply
burning tissues in order to remove unwanted elements and sterilise a certain
Cauterisation triggers a very efficient and fast emergency response from
the immune system. No other pathogen will create such intense and quick reaction
in the body than burning fire. By creating a very small, controlled crisis,
cauterisation will awaken a sluggish and dormant immune system to respond to
the “emergency” call. And, once awakened, it will also deal with any other
intruder found in its way.
When talking about traditional Chinese medicine, we need to mention the
fact that TCM will never use ice as
therapy. Cold is regarded as one of the External Devils or Pathogens.
One will find plenty of TCM texts mentioning therapies and techniques that can be used to expel Cold, but never one therapy or technique to put Cold back as means of health preservation or health restoration.
Moxibustion as part
of traditional Chinese medicine
The Chinese character for Acupuncture is
a symbol which can be translated as acupuncture-moxibustion, which means that the two
techniques, acupuncture and moxibustion complement each other or stem from the
same medical branch. Some written TCM
texts claim that acupuncture needles have the ability to transfer and disperse energy
when placed in the acupoints, while acu-moxa has the ability to awaken the
energy in the acupoints.
One image that pops into my mind when I try to explain to somebody the difference between acupuncture, acupressure and acumoxa involves a sleeping dragon – the acupoint. Acupuncture awakens this dragon by poking a spear into her back, acupressure shakes her awake, while acumoxa not only awakens the dragon, but puts the fire back into the dragon’s breath.
To Mugwort or Not To
Nowadays, there are several means to perform moxibustion, acumoxa and
Traditionally, acumoxa and moxibustion have been performed by burning Ai Ye, aka Artemisia argyi, aka Mugwort, a herb known for its special properties in numerous cultures.
The Artemisia family contains more than 200 different plants, all of
them used in ancient traditional and herbal medicines for their properties.
In TCM, Mugwort is the main
herb to be processed for acumoxa and moxibustion. However, TCM also uses Artemisia absinthium, aka Wormwood to make a vast array of herbal
remedies: teas, infusions, herbal formulas, cooking herbs, essential oils,
poultices, ointments, skin patches and incense. Additionally, since the two
herbs have the property of repelling insects and pests, they are also placed
above or around the front door, to protect the homes from insects, but also
from unwanted guests.
In the ideal situation, the TCM practitioner is able to use mugwort moxa
in their treatment premises. However, modern practices have limited the use of
mugwort as a means of performing acumoxa and moxibustion. The main “complaints”
come from the fire-fighter brigade (burnt mugwort produces smoke), but also from
the clients (some are sensitive to smoke and also the smell), sometimes also
from the other tenants in the building.
Smokeless versions of acumoxa
and moxibustion make use of specially treated charcoal, which produces about
the same amount and intensity of heat but less smell and virtually zero smoke,
Another variant are the TDP
infrared lamps with mineral plates. These have been designed by the Chinese
as a more modern alternative to mugwort and they have become quite popular among
the practitioners and clients alike. In fact, it is very seldom one will walk
into a TCM treatment room and not find one lamp waiting there to be used.
However, no matter how modern or safe the more modern approaches might be, they cannot replicate the original murwort plant. Apart from the unique burning temperature and burning time, mugwort contains specific essential oils and other herbal components that the more modern instruments have yet failed to replicate. The fact that the ancient practitioners chose mugwort as herb of choice for this therapy means that there is actually no real substitute for it.
Ways to do moxa
There are several ways in which moxa therapy can be included in TCM
treatment sessions. Depending on the client’s complaint, the practitioner will
choose the best form of moxibustion therapy.
Acumoxa focuses on applying
moxa on acupoints. In this case, the moxa cones are either attached to the
acupuncture needle that is being inserted in the acupoint, or the moxa is used
on its own. Acumoxa uses the same acupoints as acupuncture and acupressure,
only the means to manipulate the Qi at the point is the moxa cone. The heat of
the moxa will penetrate the acupoint and will activate the desired response for
the specific treatment.
Acumoxa can be direct
or indirect. In the case of direct moxibustion performed on an
acupoint, a small amount of mugwort is rolled in a small cone or thread and it
is placed directly in contact with the skin. The practitioner then sets the
mugwort cone on fire and lets it burn all the way down. This type of
moxibustion will leave a burn mark and a small scar. The practitioner will not
go back to that specific acupoint until the scar has completely healed. This type
of practice, called scarring or marking
direct moxibustion, is very popular in
the countries that created this type of traditional medicine (China, Japan,
Korea, etc), but very rare in the Western countries.
The most performed direct acumoxa practice in the West is called
non-scarring or non-marking direct moxibution. In this case, the small burning
moxa cone or thread is left in place just until the client alerts the
practitioner that they can feel the discomfort caused by the heat of the
burning moxa cone. The burning ashes are then quickly removed from the skin
before they can cause any scars or marks.
Indirect acumoxa will use a form of
medium between the skin and the burning moxa cone or thread. Traditional
mediums are ginger or garlic slices or paste and salt in the case of the navel.
More modern approaches will place readymade moxa cones on a cardboard base. Depending
on the make, the base will enable the mugwort smoke to reach the skin or not.
Moxibustion can also be used for
large areas of the body. In this case, the practitioner focuses more on the
overall painful area and less on the acupoints. Because direct moxa will cause
a large scar tissue, this procedure is only performed indirectly. The practitioner
will light up a mugwort or charcoal roll and just place it in the close
vicinity of the skin, until the client can feel the area turning hot. This kind
of indirect moxibustion is also ideal for the TDP infrared heat lamp with a
mineral plate, or more traditional instruments such as copper rollers.
The effect of the moxa treatments can be enhanced by means of mugwort ointments and skin patches, as well as other warming pads. However, they should be used with caution and only if the practitioner recommends them, as they can scald the skin.
What are the benefits
of moxibustion therapy?
So now, after we’ve seen what moxa therapy is and how it can be
performed, the remaining question is why.
Why do so many people from so many countries, like China, Japan and Korea,
willingly submit themselves to such procedures that will burn their skin and leave
Mugwort is said to have the following pharmaceutical properties:
sedative and hypnotic
Traditional Chinese medicine uses mugwort to:
warm the channels (acupoint meridians and collaterals)
Cultivation of Health
If you start digging a well when you’re already
thirsty, you are too late.
As any other form of therapy in the traditional Chinese medicine, moxa
therapy is first and foremost used for cultivation
of health. Many of the moxa treatment protocols have been originally
designed to help the body stay healthy when it was still healthy.
People in China, Korea and Japan will still perform moxa treatments
regularly as part of cultivation of health, especially during the seasons most
affected by Cold and Dampness: Spring and Autumn.
Regular moxa sessions will improve overall health and vitality and moxa is highly recommended especially for people over 40. In fact, certain moxibustionists will make their students perform moxa on themselves regularly as a regimen for good health and vitality. In the older days, young men were encouraged to marry young ladies with moxa scar marks, as a sign that these ladies were taking good care of their health and well-being.
The moxa properties make it the ideal choice when treating many complaints
caused by Cold, Dampness and Stagnation:Aches and pains
Aches and pains
Lung and respiratory conditions with Phlegm or mucus
Sexual and reproductive conditions
Infertility (in TCM it is related to a Cold Uterus or Testes)
How long a session and how many sessions?
Depending on the nature of the session – cultivation of health or health restoration, moxa treatment protocols start from a minimum of five sessions, from once a week for the cultivation of health to every fortnight or every month and they last very little in time (max 30 min).
Depending on the nature of the complaint, the treatments can be combined
with acupuncture, acupressure, medical massage or cupping. In this case, the
sessions may last up to one hour.
!!! Caveat !!!
Like any other form of TCM treatment, moxibustion has its precautions
and contraindications and only a qualified TCM practitioner will be able to
determine whether you would benefit from this therapy or not.
All forms of moxibustion will leave your skin red and sometimes blistered,
much like after spending a whole day in the summer at the beach. Your practitioner
will advise on the specific after-care.
Please do not perform heat therapy or moxa on yourself or other people! Moxibustion is not a universal solution to all your aches and pains and it can cause a lot of damage to your health if practiced incorrectly.