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Long term exposure to moxa



I wanted to find out if anyone has come across any problems with using moxa (with smoke) long term and with high exposure.

Recently my father, who is an acupuncturist for over 20 years, had a body scan, and it showed pulmonary fibrosis and emphysema. The specialist asked him if he is regularly in contact with chemicals which he said no. But after having a quick look around google, I did come across an article saying that moxa can be harmful. This is really the only article I could find, so I wanted to know what people's thoughts are. He is also a long term smoker.

I would probably use moxa on 10 people on a busy day, so if this is an aggravating factor in lung conditions, it's pretty scary considering how much of it I would have inhaled already.



I don&#39t know whether you read my question properly, but as I said, my father has been working with moxa for over 20 years now. He is 60+. He does not show any signs of lung problems, but had a CT scan for other issues, during which they picked up fibrosis of the lungs which they believe is caused by long term exposure to chemicals. As there has been no research into how inhaling moxa over decades can affect the lungs, it may be a possible factor. Long term exposure to many chemicals may not show any signs until many years down the track, like asbestos. Many people assume because something is natural, it&#39s not going to harm the body, but that is often not the case. I have already been working for over 10 years, and if moxa can cause this sort of thing, then precautions would have to be taken by the practitioner to limit inhalation.

Since all these imaging tests were not around in the old days, and we do not routinely go for scans of the lungs, how can you be 100% sure it has never affected practitioners in the past?


I don&#39t think there is any conclusive evidence on either side of this argument. For myself personally I only use moxabustion outside or in the clinic with heavily vented rooms. Do I think it is harmful? Not necessarily, but the whole more is better adage seemingly always comes back to hurt people. Now moxa clearly isn&#39t tobacco, but it&#39s also not a panacea for health either. I would think for peoples own safety, regardless of the evidence, moxa should only be used in treatment rooms with vents to the outside. We have one room in our clinic for moxibustion with a strong bathroom fan that vents outside and that seems to help. A disclaimer however, I don&#39t use it extensively, but give it to patients to use at their home as self-treatment quite often - and tell them to use it outside if at all possible. More for the smell than a risk to their lungs per se, but it&#39s probably safer outside anyhow.

Certainly many practitioners use lots of moxa for years and don&#39t have problems, seemingly at least. But I have seen it aggravate practitioners with underlying lung problems like asthma, etc. so from that it appears it&#39s not without any inflammatory risk.

Certainly there are studies like, Cytotoxicity and Radical Modulating Activity of Moxa Smoke, that have shown anti-cancer properties of moxabustion smoke. Then a meta analysis and analysis published in the British Medical Journal that tried to answer "Does The Burning Of Moxa Constitute A Health Hazard" and they found the following:

"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."

So from that I would say concerns are low overall, but ventilation probably isn&#39t a bad idea.


I definately will be taking more precautions now, just better to be safe than sorry. My clinic rooms all have exhaust fans in them anyway, but it still penetrates through the whole clinic. Might start wearing those dispoal face masks when doing moxa on people&#39s backs as the smoke always finds a way to blow directly at my face no matter where I move.

Thanks for the replies


I came across this thread and had signed up just to clear this confusion you might have. There are no dangers with moxa smoke, if anything there are benefits. And just like anything excessive, the smoke can still have some negative effects but your exposure is not excessive.

If you are using high quality moxa for example perinial moxa from korea then the smoke from moxa can actually be used to aid respiratory conditions. With any other moxa there aren&#39t health effects associated with its smoke but they cannot necessarily be used to treat.

In your fathers case, the cause is not from the moxa smoke, practicioners have used it on themselves and others all their lives and not one with a single issue from its smoke.

And personally i think using face masks to protect from moxa smoke is ridiculous. It&#39s such a powerful tool when used correctly and yet it seems to be the most underappreciated aspect of eastern medicine in mainstream TCM.


As a qualified health and safety adviser.... Yes moxa has harmful effects. See the many well researched articles eg. Search Science Direct for harmful smoke and moxa.. As a client I had an asthma attack after 20 minutes with a practitioner in a supposedly 'exhaust ventilated' room A paper mask will not do anything to reduce your exposure.
If an independent practitioner contact a safety advisory company in your area.... They will be able to do full risk assessment and advise you accordingly. If you are an employer or employee you have legal duties and rights to ensure a healthy workplace for all including short and long term effects for staff and clients.

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