Alternative Health Trends for 2012

Explore the benefits of the next wave of popular alternative health treatments and supplements available to you now.

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Dr. Oz went on a search for the next big things in alternative medicine. Learn about the three cutting-edge treatments and supplements you need to look out for in 2012 so you can take better – and smarter – care of your health.

The Next Big Thing for Pain Relief: Moxibustion

Information provided by Jamie Starkey, Lac, Lead Acupuncturist, Center for Integrative Medicine, Wellness Institute, Cleveland Clinic

Moxibustion is an acupuncture technique involving moxa, the herb mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris). In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), this herb is used to invigorate the flow of Qi and blood, promote a pain-relieving effect, and deeply penetrate the area of discomfort with soothing warmth. Qi takes on various roles in our body. For example, it is the energy that keeps us from falling ill, the energy that forces our heart to beat, or cells to divide. In TCM, Qi is a moving force that travels along pathways in the body noted as meridians. When Qi is flowing without obstruction or without deficiency, we are in a perfect state of health and wellness. It is the moment an imbalance occurs, that we begin to fall ill and manifest in various symptoms of disharmony. 

In moxibustion, the moxa herb is lit on fire and can either be placed on top of the needle (Needle Moxa); applied without the use of needles, as it can be burned in stick form as the acupuncturist hovers and swirls the stick of burning moxa above various acupuncture points; or the moxa can be indirectly placed on various acupoints on the body using a thin slice of ginger or other barrier to shield the skin. Moxibustion is particularly effective for cases like tight muscle spasms, low back pain, frozen shoulder, or various osteoarthritic joint pains, especially when pain is worsened by damp and cold weather.

For more on moxibustion and pain relief therapies involving acupuncture and other methods practiced in Traditional Chinese Medicine, click here.

The next big thing for 2012 is “at-home moxibustion”. All you need is the moxa herb (mugwort), a spray bottle and a heating pad. Spray the herbal extract onto the problem area and apply the heating pad fro about 30 minutes to alleviate muscle pain and cramps.