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Mystery reaction to Moxibustion

In June 2018 I experienced a horrific reaction to a supplement (glutathione) that caused a continuous menstrual bleed that lasted 8 months nonstop. By July gynecologist tried to stop bleeds with high dose birth control pills, it failed and I stopped a month later, but not before it caused major damage to my mental and physical state. Due to my mothers urging, I decided to see her acupuncturist. Thankfully she was able to stop my bleeding after 12 days straight of acupuncture. Each month the profuse bleeding would show up and she would do 10 days of acupuncture to stop it. This mimicked a natural cycle but even then my cycles were still all over the place. At the 8 month mark, my period was able to stop on its own but periods were 10 days long.

At some point she decided it was time to include moxibustion. I would describe them as smokey grey blocks inside a metal tin that was placed over the uterus area. Suddenly I started to react strangely to the moxibustion. Nothing I could find online would explain this and I still am recovering from the effects today after only 5-7 sessions of moxibustion. On the first day of moxibustion, I experienced a nasal congestion I have never experienced before. As the sessions continued, my nose became increasingly congested and on the 3rd day I came down with a cold with an intensity I have never felt. I literally could not breathe at all. Nasal passages closed shut. No amount of saline or steaming could open those passages. Developed Bronchitis too. I need to add that after moxibustion I was so thirsty that no amount of water could quench the thirst. I drank so much water yet only urinated once in 2 days. It felt like it dried me up internally.

3 months later…the cold/bronchitis recovered but I was left with daily nasal congestion. After that first day of moxibustion, I have just felt a dryness within my body. And the nasal passages are like the sahara desert. I assume this is why it feels congestioned constantly. What happened? Why this reaction after moxibustion? It’s almost like my body was so weak that moxibustion was too strong and caused my body to go into some sort of overdrive. Did it cause too much heat in my body? The last time I spoke to a chinese herbalist I believe she said I have spleen, kidney and liver “deficiency” and something along the lines of a great amount of “heat” (translation/language barrier). I know it would be someones instinct to disprove that what I may have experienced is from moxibustion, but my reaction was during my first session the second she put that metal tin over my stomach area. I have never felt my immune system take such a hit with this intensity, so I know it was from that specifically. I am almost a year out and I still experience daily nasal congestion. Only reprieve I get is when I use a saline spray. But I can’t live with a temporary fix, I am looking to reverse the condition it caused. If I remedy the spleen, kidney, liver issue with herbs and acupuncture, will this nasal condition reverse itself?

Without knowing the points used, how much moxibustion, your true diagnosis (i.e. not their opinion and your translation of what they think) - it is difficult to say. The best answers would generally come from consulting with another acupuncturist who would have the benefit of physically inspecting you and asking you levels of questions that are not really possible online. That said, if the moxibustion didn’t just draw something out of you that was maybe going to happen anyway (which is possible), it is likely that is was too heating and drying for you and it created more systemic problems. That said, while it is timed with the moxibustion and that may very well have been a part, I also question how much acupuncture you needed for the issues you are describing (in my opinion, way too much and way too often). I would suspect that the entire diagnosis was off, that the treatments were probably helping but not getting at the root very well and the moxibustion just simply tipped the effects of a wrong or incomplete diagnosis over the edge.

Technically moxa is moving and mildly warming in most applications, in decades of practice I’ve never seen or even heard of what you are describing. However, if you had someone who is deeply yin deficient in TCM terms, or even with tremendous heat in the blood or blood dryness you could make someone much worse with moxibustion (particularly depending on the amount and points used) - but, as I already stated, you can very consistently make them worse with improper acupuncture point selection as well.

This is not a critique of the acupuncturist in any way, just saying that from my experience conditions of this nature can be tricky to ascertain the deeper causal diagnosis, because the excessive bleeding creates other systemic problems which can confuse the deeper causes.


I am back after doing some research on my issue. Because of the bleeding and subsequent short term high dose birth control use, it created a perfect storm of hormonal imbalance. Before the moxibustion I was already dealing with extremely dry skin/overall body and hot flashes from the birth control poisoning. I had it all, dry mouth, eyes, skin, hair etc. The moxibustion did seem to tip the scale and made me excessively dry as a whole. This is indicated by the nasal dryness I have never experienced before and has not gone back to normal. I notice saline sprays give me about 15 mins of reprieve and then it dries up also. This proves it’s a dryness issue. It’s been almost a year since the moxibustion and still not back to normal. Any suggestions what I can do to breathe better? My only defense right now is using saline sprays,menthol lozenges and nasal strips but they all provide temporary relief. Contemplating on trying a nasal spray with sesame oil at drugstore. Im desperate to be able to breathe. I was contemplating eating more asian pears/celery/watermelons or starting a daily regimen of consuming olive oil, to regain some fluids in my body. Not long term, just until this resolves slightly and I am able to see my herbalist again. I saw chinese herbalist recently and did treatment for few weeks and I ended up bleeding so much this cycle that I had to stop herbs. She implied that my body was completely out of whack, and the fact that i could not tolerate neither heat nor cold air was a tell tale sign, leaning more towards being too overheated/hot flashy. I think I will allow my body to regain homeostasis on its own for now but want to tackle the dryness (yin deficiency?) with a dietary approach. Any help would be appreciated. Whether it be a food i can consume or an oily nasal spray I can create to relieve this. Thank you.

Generally speaking treating yin deficiency is less about adding fluids and more about removing heat/yang. In fact adding fluids (i.e. cooling foods) is almost always going to be counter productive - it is yin -deficiency-, not fluid deficiency. This means that it is ultimately coming from a weakness that needs to be careful strengthened. The base formula in most cases is lui we di huang wan and it can be a slow issue to resolve.

Food wise you avoid sugar, stimulants, caffeine, fried foods and focus on more cooked vegetables and in many cases restricted many grains (i.e. too many carbs - which become sugar essentially).

I appreciate your help. That makes sense. Upon doing research on Lui We Di Huang Wan, I came across Zhi Bai Di Huang Pian. It seems very popular for hot flashes and heat. Would you recommend that?

Apart from the severe dryness I am experiencing, I also experience constant phlegm in my throat that comes and goes and sometimes it appears to come from left side of my lungs. It is clear and very sticky and near impossible to cough up. Therefore, I just find myself clearing my throat for awhile to possibly shift it so my throat wouldn’t feel so uncomfortable. Would this be indicative of a damp heat disposition? Or would this be more of the heat causing a fluid stagnation which manifests as phlegm?

Also do you think incorporating Aloe Vera would help to dispel the excess heat? Thanks again.

Sorry for resurrecting this post but thought i’d add to it since my situation hasn’t changed much. I went to see a chinese herbalist in hopes that she could rectify my horrible imbalances. Was taking herbs for a couple of weeks and while it helped my overall vitality, it did cause me to bleed more during my period. Blood became more watery and exited faster when normally it drips in a more timely manner. I had to stop treatment. Since stopping, My periods start with a brown discharge that appears 7 days before my 7 day long heavy period. Though current period is no longer a watery consistency thankfully. Instinctively I feel that the treatment was pushing my body to heal faster than it wanted to. Im currently still dealing with some random mild hot flashes that was first induced by the intake of high birth control pills from a year ago, and the subsequent dryness from moxibustion that followed. Im no longer a burning furnace but I still get too warm for comfort.

Recently I caught a cold and like my previous colds in the last year, my lungs would fill up with fluids(phlegm) very easily. With colds lasting almost a month. Does this indicate liver fire moving towards lungs?? Also I am chronically dehydrated and no amount of water I drink is helping.

I’m not sure if I want to return to the herbalist. I may want to give the Lui We Di Huang Wan pills you suggested above a try. Havent heard your opinion on Zhi Bai Di Huang Pian and would love to read it if you are familiar with it. Thanks in advance.

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