Would Aijiu (艾灸), Moxibustion, in TCM cause a health hazard?

Some people have concerns if the smoke from the burning of moxa in TCM would cause a health hazard? I myself had concerns as well. 

There has been some research done in China, the results shows: it wouldn’t do very much harm to people’s health if it is not used long term with a high continuing concentration of the smoke.

Everything has two sides. Herbal products to take internally, acupuncture, supplements, chemical drugs, biological medications, operations, radio therapy, chemotherapy, etc., they all have their strength and weakness in helping human’s health. Everyone must decide what to choose when it comes to have any of those treatments. It would be worth to consider if it does good more than harm when the any treatments is carried out carefully, properly and safely.

Moxibustion is not a treatment people would need to do everyday permanently or for a long term. Once the conditions can get helped, people do not need to do the treatment continuously and often. The treatment is not like taking western medication for chronic conditions. Once it works and makes your own system strong enough to rebuold the energy balance on its own, then, you just come off it or only do a few times whenever there is any needs.  I have never suggested anybody to do this treatment everyday for weeks or months. Always suggest my clients to have a break after having some sessions of the treatment, and once their systems can hold the good effects well, they just cut down the frequency of the treatment till they can come off it.

There are also some ways of reducing the effects from the smoke of buring the herbal moxa rolls. 

1. Choose high quality of moxa products.

2. Carry out treatment in a well ventilated are.

3. Wear a face mask during the treatment if it is possible.

There are smoke free moxa rolls on the market nowadays. They also have good effects on helping some conditions. They have been used in some hospitals where it is not allowed to emit smoke in China.

Copying an article from the NHS website here:

 1136. Title:
Does the burning of moxa (Artemisia vulgaris) in traditional Chinese medicine constitute a health hazard?
Acupuncture in Medicine, 01 March 2009, vol./is. 27/1(16-20), 09645284
Wheeler J,Coppock B,Chen C
BACKGROUND: Concerns have been expressed about potential toxicity of the smoke produced by the burning of moxa in traditional Chinese medicine. With the advent of strict anti-smoking legislation in the UK, it was decided to test the volatiles produced by moxibustion and compare them with current agreed safe exposure levels. METHOD: Moxa, in the form of cigar shaped moxa “sticks” or “rolls”, was tested under International Organization for Standardization conditions in a tobacco testing laboratory, and the quantities of a number of pre-determined volatiles measured. The smoke tested was “sidestream smoke”, the smoke which arises from the burning tip of the moxa. The test results were then scaled up to reflect normal use and to provide direct comparisons with agreed national safety standards for both short- and long-term exposure levels. RESULTS: Levels of only two volatiles produced were equivalent or greater than the safe exposure levels, as was the carbon monoxide level reported, both as a consequence of using worst case assumptions for comparison. Under normal operating conditions neither volatile nor carbon monoxide would present a safety hazard. One group of chemicals tested, the aromatic amines, with known carcinogenic properties have no agreed safety levels. Results for these in the study compared favourably with background levels reported in urban environments. CONCLUSION: There are no immediate concerns arising from the continued use of moxa as a therapeutic modality in traditional Chinese medicine. Further testing may be required to establish whether current recommendations for ventilation and cleansing of treatment room surfaces may need to be revised. Stronger recommendations may also be necessary on the inadvisability of using moxa on broken skin.
Publication type:
journal article

Reference links: http://www.library.nhs.uk/booksandjournals/details.aspx?t=Occupational+Exposure%2Fprevention+%26+control&stfo=True&sc=bnj.ebs.cinahl,bnj.pub.MED,bnj.ovi.psyh&p=23&sf=srt.unspecified&sfld=fld.title&sr=bnj.ebs&did=2010342218&pc=113&id=1136


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