Modern life is bustling with innovative technologies for a convenient living; online access to news and information, timesaving transport, fast foods, cleaning products that make your home sparkle, and cosmetics that leave us feeling ‘our best selves’. This improved way of living, however, is accompanied by increased exposure to a multitude of chemicals, pesticides and electromagnetic fields, which have the capacity to cause tissue damage and disturb our delicate hormonal balance. A build-up of these toxins can overburden the body, leading to fatigue, weight gain, digestive disturbances, and hormonal disorders.
Fortunately, these effects can be offset using the superhero nutrient sulforaphane, which stimulates toxin elimination. It also reduces the fall-out from toxic exposure by strengthening antioxidant defences.
The War Against Toxins
The battle between antioxidants and toxins is much like a war between good and evil. Toxins create molecules known as free radicals, which cause damage to our cells: a process known as oxidative stress. Conversely, antioxidants are substances that can neutralise free radicals, thereby protecting our cells and tissues from damage.
Our body also neutralises and eliminates toxic substances via detoxification, with the liver primarily responsible for eliminating the toxins we are exposed to. Whilst the liver is an efficient organ, it can benefit greatly from detoxification support to prevent it from becoming overburdened by constant toxin exposure. This is where sulforaphane plays a key role, enhancing the body’s detoxification processes and reducing damage caused by free radical exposure.
Sulforaphane Saves the Day
Sulforaphane is an ingredient made by the body from nutrients found within cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage and kale. Sulforaphane increases antioxidant protection by stimulating the antioxidant defence system within the body that protects against the effects of oxidative stress.
Additionally, sulforaphane enhances detoxification activity in the body by inducing enzymes involved in metabolism of harmful toxins by the liver, promoting their elimination.
The Elusive Hero
Providing your body with sulforaphane is not as simple as adding a few extra spoonfuls of broccoli to your dinner plate; you need to provide your body with the right ingredients to make it. The main ingredient is glucoraphanin, found primarily in broccoli seeds, however you also need myrosinase, found in high concentration in broccoli sprouts, to ‘activate’ it (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Sulforaphane is made from glucoraphanin, with a little help from myrosinase.
Although broccoli does contain both glucoraphanin and myrosinase, you would need to consume almost two cups of raw broccoli each day to attain enough for a beneficial amount of sulforaphane. For those who prefer cooked broccoli, the heating process destroys myrosinase, so while cooked broccoli can give you glucoraphanin, there is not enough myrosinase to convert it into sulforaphane in the body.
Additionally, vitamin C is needed to turn on myrosinase, making it a vital ingredient for sulforaphane production. Therefore, whilst this hero ingredient is formidable in the face of its toxin foe, its strength can remain elusive given the wrong circumstances. A carefully crafted supplement derived from seed and sprout, containing glucoraphanin, myrosinase and vitamin C, provides the building blocks for sulforaphane production, ensuring your antioxidant superhero steps out of the shadows and shines!
Time for a Spring Clean
If you are feeling sluggish, tired, and less than your best, a detoxification can help you to make a clean start to Spring with renewed health and vitality. We can provide you a safe and effective professional detoxification program, tailored to your individual needs.
If you are interested in finding out if toxins may be causing problems in your body, we offer a free Comprehensive Assessment at our clinic. It will also allow us to identify what is causing any health issues you may have, and the best way to resolve them. Most people quite enjoy their Assessment, and find it very helpful and informative. There is no cost or obligation whatsoever for an Assessment, and you can give us a call or book online.
When we think about healthy foods, we usually look at them in terms of the important nutrients, vitamins and minerals in them. These are vital to our health, but the benefits of good foods go beyond these alone. Everything you eat or drink has an effect on your body in some way! Of course, the effect is usually very mild, but over time the foods you eat can have a profound influence on your body and how it works. Food can even be used as a medicine to treat various diseases.
Here is a small sample of different foods and a few of their effects.
Very good for the kidneys.
To help control appetite, eat celery between and during meals.
As it is very high in silicon, it helps damaged joints, bones, tendons, ligaments and arteries.
As it makes the blood more alkaline, it is useful for arthritis, rheumatism, gout, and nerve inflammations.
Can be helpful to reduce blood pressure (including during pregnancy).
Excess celery (such as large amounts of celery juice) can affect the kidneys.
Garlic has strong antiviral and antibacterial properties. It increases sweating as well, so is very beneficial at the start of a cold.
It keeps the walls of the blood vessels clean, so that cholesterol doesn’t build up on the inside of them. (Garlic doesn’t lower cholesterol levels, but does decrease the risk of it blocking the arteries.) However, because of this cleansing effect, those on vegetarian diets with low cholesterol levels shouldn’t have too much garlic, as it may thin the walls of their blood vessels over time.
Garlic also promotes the growth of healthy bacteria and helps get rid of bad bacteria in the guts.
When eaten, it helps to keep mossies away!
Excess garlic can decrease mental concentration, so best not to overuse it.
Pears are very moistening to the body, especially to the lungs and large intestine. So they can work well at getting rid of a dry cough (though they may moisten the phlegm so it can be coughed up).
Also very good for constipation caused by the large intestine being dry.
Pears can decrease gall bladder pain and inflammation.
The tea made from boiling fresh ginger is very good for the early stages of a cold.
Ginger is great for weak digestion. However it is very warming, so not suitable for people whose bodies run a little hot. (Could cause constipation in these cases; if this happened, they could then use pears to correct it. J)
Ginger is good for nausea, vomiting, morning sickness, and for period pain which is improved with heat. As a general rule, the cooler a person’s body runs, the better ginger will work for them. (If you dislike the taste of ginger, it is probably not right for you.)
Dandelion root tea (available in teabags from some supermarkets) is great for cleaning the liver and detoxifying the body. As it helps release toxins from the liver, it is important to make sure that you also drink enough water when using it, especially since it is also a diuretic.
Contains the enzyme bromelain which improves digestion of proteins. It is used to treat sunstroke, indigestion, anorexia, diarrhoea, and excess fluid. (Not to be used if you have stomach ulcers.)
As you can see from this small sample, there is far more to food than just a bunch of nutrients! As Hippocrates, the founder of modern medicine is believed to have said, “Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food.”
If you have any questions about a particular food and how it affects the body, please let us know.
Special Introductory Offer for Naturopathy Tele-Consults
Health Solutions by Skype or FaceTime
With the current COVID-19 pandemic, having a strong immune system is even more important. Your immune system is the only defence your body has against viruses (including the coronavirus), and how badly a virus affects you, and how quickly you recover from it, are directly related to how strong your immune system is.
So if you would like to strengthen your immune system, or if you have another health issue you would like to sort out, we now offer 15 minute ‘Focus Consults’ for an introductory price of only $15. You can obtain quality, professional advice for most acute conditions, including:
Strengthening your immune system
Colds and flu
Reflux or heartburn
Sore throat (laryngitis)
Urinary tract infection (UTI)
This is a quick, easy and inexpensive way to get on top of a recent health issue before it gets on top of you.
(If you are not familiar with it, naturopathy is the use of natural medicines to treat health problems. It may involve the use of high potency supplements, herbal treatments, diet therapy, etc. Naturopaths are qualified health professionals with a 4 year degree. We have two dedicated, full-time naturopaths at our clinic, Margaret McNamara and Sunni Patel.)
To book a Focus Consult with one of our experienced naturopaths, please give us a call or you can also book online.
A Possible Cause of Insomnia, Jaw Pain or Hormone Imbalances
The human body is so complex and fascinating! Have a look at the symptoms that can occur if there is a problem with a bone at the front of the skull (the sphenoid bone). These “might include insomnia, sleeping disorders (including sleep apnea), TMJ, jaw pain, ear problems, temporal headache, dental problems, etc. … hormonal imbalances might occur, … sensitive skin, rash, and eczema.”
In the diagram it shows how the sphenoid bone is almost an exact mirror image of the pelvis, and if one is out of alignment it is very common to find the other is out as well. So whenever someone comes in for lower back or hip pain, we like to check if their pelvis and sphenoid bone are out as well.
(Image is from ‘Clinical Strategies’ Vol. 1 by K. Matsumoto and D. Euler.)
End of Financial Year Sale
25% Off Selected Items
We are having a big End of Financial Year Sale for June and July 2019, with 25% off the products below.
(Our policy is always to sell the highest quality products available. So if you are after one of these items, you can be sure it is excellent quality and at a great price. The discount is only for existing products on our shelves, with limited availability, so if you would like any of these items it would be best to get in early.)
• Organic Maca by NutraOrganics, 550mg 180 capsules • Collagen Beauty Skin Hair Gut Health by NutraOrganics, 225grams • Floravital Herbal Liquid Iron+ by Floradix, 500ml • Femaren – Menopause Hot Flushes by Oriental Botanicals, 30 capsules • Alkimiya Ayurvedic Purifying Tea by Tea Coup • Isalean Pro Box of 14 meal replacement sachets, Vanilla flavour, by Isagenix
• Back & Stomach Pack (‘wheat bag’) by Therapacks, Large • Neck & Shoulder Pack (‘wheat bag’) by Therapacks, Large • ONYA Reusable Coffee Cup, 340ml
• MooGoo Eczema & Psoriasis Cream 200gram tube • MooGoo Milk Wash 500ml • MooGoo Cream Conditioner 500ml • MooGoo Anti-aging Face Cream 75mg • MooGoo Night Time Face Cream 75 grams • MooGoo Anti Bacterial Hand Moisturiser 100mls • MooGoo Anti-Bacterial Hand Moisturiser 270g • MooGoo Blemish Cleansing Moisturiser (was called Acne Cleansing Cream) 75ml • MooGoo Oil Cleansing Method 100ml • MooGoo Gentle Exfoliating Powder 75g • MooGoo Certified Rosehip Oil 25ml • MooGoo Super Vitamin C Eye Serum 25ml • MooGoo Shea Sorbet 50grams
• Soakology Magnesium Bath Bomb, Lemongrass, by Saltco • Soakology Magnesium Bath Bomb, Lullaby Lavender, by Saltco • Soakology Magnesium Bath Bomb, Vanilla Vixen (Love Vanilla), by Saltco • Essential Oils – Rosemary 25ml, by Oil Garden • Essential Oils – Lemongrass 25ml, by Oil Garden
Is Green Tea Your Friend or Foe?
How Something that is Good for Most People can be Harmful for others
Green tea is well-known for its health benefits. It is loaded with antioxidants and a variety of nutrients that have been shown to help brain function, assist with fat loss, may reduce risk of cancers, reduce your risk of heart disease, and many other impressive benefits.
So shouldn’t everyone drink green tea?
Everyone’s body works a little differently to everyone else’s. Some people naturally have more energy, have better eyesight, or better circulation, while others may react to certain foods, have dryer skin, or catch colds more easily. No two bodies ever work exactly the same.
One of the effects of green tea is to block the enzyme that breaks down histamine in our bodies (diamine oxidase, or DAO). Histamine triggers inflammation in the body, and typically causes allergy symptoms such as sneezing, redness, itching, etc. (Anti-histamine medications are often used to decrease these symptoms.) It also causes the reactions when you have a food allergy.
If you don’t produce enough DAO and are unable to break down your histamine properly, you could develop a histamine intolerance. Some common reactions associated with this intolerance include
Headaches or migraines
Nasal congestion or sinus issues
Irregular menstrual cycle
In more severe cases of histamine intolerance, you may experience:
High blood pressure
Irregular heart rate
Difficulty regulating your body temperature
So if you have high histamine levels, it is best to avoid foods that contain a lot of histamine, foods that cause the body to release histamine, or foods that block DAO.
Foods High in Histamine
Fermented alcoholic beverages, especially wine, champagne and beer
Vegetables: avocados, eggplant, spinach, and tomatoes
Smoked fish and certain species of fish: mackerel, tuna, anchovies, sardines
Foods that Release Histamine
Many artificial preservatives and dyes
Foods that Block DAO
Everything we eat or drink has an effect on the body in some way. Because every body functions a little differently, what is good and beneficial to one person’s health might be no good for someone else. For example, pears help to moisten the lungs so they can be helpful if you have a dry cough, but excessive use of pears during pregnancy may increase the risk of a miscarriage in some people.
If you are interested in finding out what foods are ideal for you, and for addressing any health problems you may have, we have two excellent naturopaths at our clinic. We also offer a free Comprehensive Assessment, to see what is going on in your body, what is causing any problems, and the best way to sort them out. (Terms and conditions- the Assessment is a completely free service, with no obligations whatsoever.) If you would like to have one done, please book soon while this offer is still available.
Why are My Iron Levels Low All the Time?
Do you suffer from any of these?
Tiredness or fatigue
Getting tired easily during or after physical activity
Get injured easily
Low immune system
Chest pains, a fast heartbeat, or shortness of breath
Fainting, dizziness or light-headedness
Cold hands and feet
Hair and skin problems
A sore tongue
Unusual cravings, such as ice, dirt or starch
Poor appetite (especially in infants and children)
If so, you may be deficient in iron.
How Your Body Uses Iron
Its main use is to transport oxygen in your body, but it supports many other body and mental functions as well.
Iron is essential for red blood cells to carry oxygen
One of the most important functions of iron is in the creation of haemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells, which transports oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Without enough iron your body can’t get enough oxygen, leading to you feeling tired or exhausted.
Iron helps convert food to energy
ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) is the body’s primary energy source, and our cells require iron to convert the energy from nutrients into ATP. (This process is known as cellular respiration.) Low iron means less ATP, which is another reason why low iron levels can make you feel tired and fatigued all the time.
Iron helps maintain a normal immune system
Iron is necessary to produce and mature your immune cells (especially lymphocytes), which protect us from bacteria and viruses.
Iron contributes to normal brain function
Iron plays an important role in maintaining normal cognitive function, including memory, concentration, alertness, learning, intelligence, language, and problem solving. Maintaining a good level of iron in our bodies helps us to ensure our brain is performing correctly and at its best.
What Causes Low Iron
Some of the common causes of iron deficiency include
Lack of iron in the diet – there are two types of dietary iron, haem iron (found in animal tissue) and non-haem iron. The body absorbs haem iron much more easily than non-haem iron. Dietary intake of iron could be inadequate for a variety of reasons, including a poorly balanced vegetarian diet or fad dieting.
Low ability to absorb iron – healthy adults absorb only about 10% -15% of dietary iron, but some people’s bodies will absorb even less. Iron is absorbed through your stomach and small intestine, so if these are not functioning well it can cause problems. Often surgery to these areas (including a gastric bypass or gastric band) will also affect how much iron you can absorb.
The iron in plant-based foods is much harder to absorb than the iron in animal foods. So if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, it’s important to understand how to prepare iron-rich foods to make sure you absorb as much iron as possible.
Exercise – people who train a lot are prone to iron deficiency, because regular exercise increases the body’s need for iron in a number of ways. For example, iron is used to make new red blood cells, and hard training increases the rate of red cells being produced. Iron is also lost through sweating.
Inflammation – this is often overlooked as a cause of low iron, and one we commonly see in our clinic.
Blood loss – iron deficiency easily occurs in situations of chronic blood loss. Common causes include heavy menstrual periods, regular blood donation, regular nosebleeds, chronic disorders that involve bleeding (such as ulcers, hiatus hernia, bowel polyps or bowel cancer), and certain medications, particularly aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs.
Increased need – an adolescent growth spurt, pregnancy and breastfeeding are situations when the body requires more iron. If this increased need isn’t met, a deficiency can quickly occur.
Babies need breast milk or iron-fortified formula for the first year. Those who have cow’s milk instead are more likely to develop an iron deficiency.
Why does inflammation matter?
In 2000, scientists discovered a compound called hepcidin, and deemed it the “Master Regulator” of iron metabolism.1 Essentially, hepcidin controls whether iron can get into and out of cells. This affects a few key processes related to iron metabolism:
Iron absorption from the digestive tract
Iron recycling from damaged cells
Release of iron from storage
Typically, hepcidin levels are increased when there is a high level of circulating iron. This reduces absorption of iron from the diet, reduces the amount of recycled iron released into the system, and converts more iron into the storage form, ferritin. All of this helps to protect the body from iron overload.
Inflammation can also cause hepcidin production to increase.2 The increase in response to inflammation helps our bodies defend against invading bacteria, viruses, or other pathogens. Foreign invaders need iron to survive and thrive, just as we do. Therefore, the body responds by increasing hepcidin levels, causing much of the available iron to be converted to ferritin and put into storage. The lack of iron in the blood suppresses the ability of these invaders to grow and multiply.
Ferritin levels are usually a good measure of your overall iron status, but in the presence of inflammation, they may act as an immune response marker instead of an indicator of your iron stores.
However, inflammation in the body can come from other sources apart from invaders. These include strenuous exercise, a niggling injury, contraceptive pills, digestive problems, allergies or food intolerances, inflammatory bowel disease, excess weight, autoimmune diseases, poor diet, stress, and lack of sleep.
Understanding Your Blood Test
Your blood test will often include your levels of
Haemoglobin – which the red blood cells use to transport oxygen from your lungs to the cells of your body
Serum iron – measures the level of iron in the liquid part of your blood.
Transferrin – transferrin is a protein in your blood that transports iron, and your body produces transferrin according to your iron needs. When its iron stores are low, the transferrin levels should increase, and your levels should be low when there is too much iron. (Usually about one third of your transferrin is being used to transport iron.)
Total Iron Binding Capacity (TIBC)– this is a good indirect measurement of transferrin. (A pathology lab will normally measure either the transferrin levels or the TIBC.)
Transferrin saturation: this is the percentage of transferrin that is filled with iron.
Ferritin – ferritin is the main protein your body uses to store iron, so this is a measure of the amount of iron stored in your body
The balance of these readings is often helpful in determining what is causing your low iron.
In many types of iron deficiency the transferrin and TIBC may be high. Remember that the TIBC and transferrin are not measuring the amount of iron in the blood but the ability of the blood to carry iron. When the body lacks iron, it increases the amount of transferrin to gather as much of it as it can.
(Women using the contraceptive pill will often have high transferrin levels as well.)
On the other hand, those with chronic inflammation usually have low transferrin (or TIBC).
Here is a summary of the typical test results for the common types of iron deficiency.
Iron deficiency caused by
Transferrin or TIBC
Low intake, low absorption, blood loss
Normal / high
This chart is only a very general guide. For example, after strenuous exercise, your demand for oxygen will have increased, so your levels of transferrin will be higher short term. But if you over-exercise over a long period, the chronic inflammation may cause your transferrin levels to become low. And over time, if your body is not absorbing iron as fast as it is losing it, your ferritin levels will also become low.
So interpreting blood tests correctly requires careful evaluation, and a knowledge of the person’s diet and lifestyle.
Improving your iron levels
Obviously, the most important thing is to identify and address what is causing the problem. Having said that, some of the more common considerations are
Diet– an increase in foods that contain plenty of iron in an easily absorbed form is often important.
Absorption – it is very common to find that the person’s digestive system is not absorbing iron easily, so improving digestion is necessary most of the time. The tannins in tea and coffee bind to the iron and interfere with absorption, so cut back on the amount of these you drink, especially around mealtimes.
Address any inflammation or infection – low grade inflammation can occur almost anywhere in the body for a variety of reasons, however the digestive system is a very common source.
Taking iron supplements
Don’t take these if you don’t need to.
Unnecessary iron supplementation can interfere with your body’s absorption of other minerals, including zinc and copper.
Some prescribed iron supplements can cause constipation, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, especially if they are taken on an empty stomach. Some can even cause internal bleeding (making the iron levels worse instead of better!).
About one in 300 people have haemochromatosis, which is an inherited disorder that causes the body to absorb more iron than normal. Excess iron damages their body’s tissues and increases their risk of cancers and heart disease. People with this condition need to limit how much iron they consume.
The best iron supplements are easily absorbed by the body, and contain extra vitamin C to increase the absorption rate. They contain a bio-available form of iron, and are very unlikely to cause any of the side effects associated with some of the others.
If your iron levels seem to be low all the time, just check with your doctor first to make sure there isn’t anything serious happening. Then we can check what is going on in your body and recommend the correct diet, supplements or treatment for you, to help you get your energy and spark back again. We even offer a free Comprehensive Assessment, to perform a detailed check of how your body is working and the best way to sort it out. (Terms and conditions- the Assessment is a free service, with no obligations whatsoever.) So if you would like to enjoy better energy and better health, please give us a call.
 Park, Christina H., et al. “Hepcidin, a urinary antimicrobial peptide synthesized in the liver.” Journal of biological chemistry 276.11 (2001): 7806-7810.
 Ganz, Tomas, and Elizabeta Nemeth. “Iron sequestration and anemia of inflammation.” Seminars in hematology. Vol. 46. No. 4. WB Saunders, 2009.
Naturopathy May be Covered Again by Health Funds
Government to Review Rebates for Natural Therapies
The federal government stopped health funds covering most natural therapies from 1st April 2019. (Acupuncture and remedial massage are still covered.) However, after a backlash from supporters of natural therapies, the government has now commissioned a review of the evidence for naturopathy and a number of other natural therapies, to see if they should again be covered by the funds. The government had made it’s original decision based on a 2014-15 review of natural therapies, which was clearly out of date.
Also, here is a video by Dr Kerryn Phelps, a high-profile GP, saying why the government preventing health funds covering many natural therapies was a bad idea. On her Facebook page, she says “As a GP and conjoint professor at the National Institute of Complementary Medicine, I will continue to fight the Morrison Government’s decision to remove the complementary therapies yoga, pilates, tai chi, Western herbal medicine and naturopathy from receiving private health insurance rebates.
Practitioners want certainty and patients want choice. Internationally, health systems are adopting complementary therapies rather than shunning them.
Thousands of practitioners and patients have gotten in touch with me due to sheer frustration at the Government’s decision that comes into effect today. The medical evidence for complementary therapies exists and they can be part of an effective medical treatment program for patients.
A total of 16 natural therapies have been banned from receiving private health rebates from April 1 because the Morrison Government thinks they lack scientific evidence. The problem is that the evidence relied upon to make this decision was out of date, with no studies included that were more recent than 2014.
Around 80 per cent of Australians use natural medicines and treatments. The move was designed to push down private health premiums, but experts admit it will have a minimal impact.
I spoke to Sky News today and said the following: “I think that the net was cast far too wide for these complementary therapies. I have asked the Health Minister to reconsider the list of prohibited therapies and particularly to remove from that list yoga, tai chi, Western herbal medicine, naturopathy and pilates so that people can continue to get value from their private health insurance for these modalities.
“I think it is very important that both sides of Government understand the importance of integrated therapies for individual choice. We have people who are integrating a variety of complementary therapies which do have support, with evidence, for their healthcare, and particularly for their preventative healthcare and for recovery and rehabilitation.
“To not be able to get the value out of your private health insurance by being able to use these therapies of choice is a very backwards step. It is certainly out of step with what is happening internationally. One example is that for low back pain in the NHS in the UK, first line therapies are tai chi and yoga, yet these are two of the therapies that are being removed from the list of subsidies for private health insurance – I think that this needs a rethink.”
Open Day Special Offer
Saturday 1st June 2019
Discover a Happier, Healthier You
Would you like to feel well, have more energy, get rid of a constant pain, or be free of a health problem that won’t go away?
Would you like to experience naturopathy or acupuncture, and have a 15 minute massage?
At our Open Day, you can find out if natural therapies can resolve your health issues, or help you to enjoy a happier, healthier and more vital version of yourself. The Day includes
15-20 minutes with a naturopath (to find out about naturopathy, or how naturopathy can help your condition), and
15-20 minutes with an acupuncturist (to find out about acupuncture, see if acupuncture can help your condition, or have a short demonstration treatment), and
15-20 minutes with a massage therapist (to have a massage, or be assessed and find out if massage can effectively treat your condition)
Bookings are essential and cost just $15 (payable at the time of booking). On the day you can choose to put this value towards the cost of a full treatment at our clinic, or we will donate it to a local charity, Enhanced Care. (Enhanced Care do great work providing respite care for children and young adults with high needs/multiple impairments.)
So if you have an ongoing health problem, are tired all the time, or in pain, this special offer could be the beginning of a great new chapter of your life. Please book online or give us a call on 33766911 now to secure your place.
Moxa- Another Way of Treating Acupuncture Points
If ever you walk into our clinic and notice a light smoky smell, don’t worry, it just means that moxa has been used in one of our treatment rooms. Moxa is one of the least-known but most effective methods of treating in Chinese and Japanese medicine.
(It is normally used on acupuncture points, so it can also be used to treat people who are scared of the idea of having acupuncture.)
What is Moxa?
Moxa is made by drying, crushing and sifting the leaves of a special herb (Artemisia argyi). The use of moxa is an important part of any acupuncture training, and we use it in most acupuncture treatments we perform at our clinic.
How is it Used?
There are said to be over 50 methods of using moxa, but the main techniques we use are:
‘Rice-grain’ moxa, where we stand up a piece of extra-high quality moxa the size and shape of a small grain of rice on an acupuncture point. The moxa is lit with a special incense stick, it smoulders for a few seconds, then is extinguished just above the skin, so that a light warm penetrates into the acupuncture point and body. The more rice-grain moxa pieces are used on the point, the deeper the warmth penetrates into the body. Rice-grain moxa is used to treat acupuncture points.
‘Cone moxa’ uses a roughly a teaspoon of high quality moxa shaped into a cone. This is also placed on an acupuncture point, lit, smoulders down, and is removed when a slight warmth is felt. (See the picture at beginning of this article.) Cone moxa is often used to adjust a treatment.
‘Warm-needle’ moxa, where a small clump of moxa is placed on the handle of an acupuncture needle and lit. The heat from the smouldering moxa warms the area around the needle, and also passes down the needle deep into the body.
A ‘Tiger Warmer’ is a thin metal device with a stick of moxa inside it. The Tiger Warmer is stroked over an area or pressed on an acupuncture point to treat the area or point. We often recommend clients purchase one as a simple method to treat themselves at home. (‘Elephant Warmers’ are much bigger versions for treating a large area, such as the lower back for back pain, or the abdomen for period pain.)
How Does Moxa Work?
It is important to realise that the warmth from moxa has a completely different effect on the body to other types of heat. There has been plenty of research into how moxa produces its effects on the body, and many theories have been put forward, but there are no clear answers yet. Originally it was thought that the essential oils in the plant may have produced the benefits, but now it is believed that the unusual frequency of the far infra-red heat produced by the smouldering moxa causes the changes.
Grades of Moxa
For rice-grain moxa, we only use the highest grade from carefully selected, superior quality plants gathered from the Ibuki Mountain in Japan during midwinter. This moxa consists of the hairs from the leaves of the plants, and is so pure that virtually no smoke is produced when it burns. This grade is known as ‘Gold moxa’ due to its colour (and possibly its scarcity and price!).
For cone and warm-needle treatments, we use Extra Pure Wakakusa Grade moxa, a very high quality moxa from the leaves of the plant.
Moxa has been used as part of acupuncture treatments for around 3,000 years, and some people believe that it was even used to treat people before acupuncture was developed. In Japan, it is traditional for a child to receive a moxa treatment from the head-man of their village whenever they have a birthday, to ensure good health for them.
After World War II, the Americans occupied Japan, and banned the use of acupuncture and moxa, believing them to be barbaric and primitive practices. They had no idea how much opposition they would encounter! Traditional practitioners banded together and mounted a massive campaign, enlisting the help of doctors and scientists who understood the value of these practices. After a long legal battle, the therapists prevailed, and so these practices survived.
In Japan, moxabustion (treatment by burning moxa) is considered a therapy in its own right, and there is separate registration for acupuncturists and moxabustionists. However, most acupuncturists incorporate some degree of moxa treatments in their practice. It is common in Japan for acupuncturists and moxabustionists to teach their clients how to perform simple moxa treatments on themselves at home for their condition, and platform or ‘stick-on’ moxa is commonly sold in various shops as a form of self-treatment. The person sticks the small cylinder of moxa on the painful spot, lights it, and removes it when the right level of warmth is felt.
So if you notice a light smoky smell when you come to the clinic, you know that someone has just enjoyed moxa as part of their treatment.
For more information about moxa and how it may be able to help you, please talk to Peter or one of our other acupuncturists.
 Practical Moxibustion Therapy, by Junji Mizutani, R.Ac., 1998
Winner Business Achievers Award 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011 & 2012
Inducted into Business Achievers Hall of Fame 2009
LPA Outstanding High Achievement Award 2011
Mt Ommaney Small Business Award (Health & Fitness) 2018 & 2020
We help provide care and accommodation to young disabled people through regular support of YoungCare (by donating the proceeds of our Gift Voucher sales)