Summer’s Here; Time for San Fu Moxa

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This year, on July 11th, 21st, 31st, and August 10th, acupuncturists around the globe use San Fu Moxa to help prevent respiratory illness for the following winter. 

The days are selected on the most cosmologically auspicious days of the year: a series of days that begin with a yang metal stem. The intervals are somewhat irregular, ranging from 10-20 days. The final treatment is added after the first day of Autumn, according to the Chinese Calendar. 

Since the Qing Dynasty, San Fu has been used to help prevent asthma, bronchitis, and other respiratory disorders. Commonly we think of moxa as burning mugwort on points or areas of the body. However, San Fu Moxa is considered a cold moxa: nothing is burned, but the herbs are warming. 

Why do it now? 

Because we honor the principles of prevention. In this case, Dong Xia Bing Zhi

“Treat winter diseases in the summer.” 

Chapter 9 of the Ling Shu says that “In spring Qi is in the hair, in summer Qi is in the skin, in Autumn Qi is in the flesh, and in winter Qi is in the tendons and bones. While this passage was discussing needling depth, we can apply this principle to San Fu Treatment. 

The lungs rule the skin and belong to the metal element. Therefore, treating the points during the peak hot days of the year allows the warmth of the herbs to penetrate, warming the yang, transforming phlegm, and strengthening the lungs. 

How to use San Fu Moxa

The following is how we use San Fu Moxa. Other practitioners might select different points. If you have your own method, please share this with us! We love learning from our community. 

Our San Fu uses a mixture of equal parts Xi Xin Radix et Rhizoma Asari, Bai Jie Zi, Semen Sinapis, Yan Hu Suo Rhizoma Corydalis, Lai fu Zi Semen Raphani, Xuan Fu Hua Flos Inulae, and Wu Zhu Yu Fructus Evodiae. Traditionally, Gan Sui Radix Kansuiwas included, as was She Xiang Moschus. However, the former is difficult to source, and the latter is illegal and unethical. Ma Huang (Ephedra Herba) can also be used; however, its restricted use makes this difficult in the U.S. 

Each bag contains 25 grams each for a total of 150 grams.

The herbs are ground and sifted into a fine powder and are ready to use when mixed with the moistening agent of your choice. 

Moisten the herb powder with the liquid of your choosing: we like water or ginger juice. Other options include honey, sesame oil, and even petroleum jelly.

They are formed into small balls (we measure ¼ teaspoon) and applied to a series of changing points.

At China Herb’s sister practice: Six Fishes, we apply the san fu using transparent bandages.

Here’s the point selection for each treatment

The first treatment focused on downbearing and diffusing the lungs: 

Dingchuan, BL‑12, BL‑13

The second treatment supports the spleen and transforms phlegm: 

DU‑14, BL‑14, BL‑20

The Final treatment nourishes the kidneys to aid them in grasping the lung qi

BL‑11, BL‑23, BL‑43

 The herbs are applied and left on for several hours or up to a day. They frequently feel itchy, and the skin reddens. Blisters forming is possible. If this happens, instruct your patients to apply a soothing burn cream. If they come to the office, you can apply Ching Wang Hung Ointment. 

The length of time the San Fu remains on the skin can vary widely: it can feel caustic and itchy after an hour. On the other hand, in the case of a yang deficient patient last year, she never felt the heat from the application at all. We generally instruct our patients to remove the plaster when it feels irritating. 

Consider San Fu for asthmatic children: make the plasters smaller: pea-sized and retain them only for a couple of hours. 

The treatment may leave marks that fade over time: Make your patient aware of this in advance. 

 Time is running out to purchase San Fu in time, so don’t delay! 

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