Sunday, November 9, 2014

Making Smudge Sticks and Moxibustion

You may know that one of our passions is teaching about and using wild plants as food and medicine. We write about that on a website called Food Under Foot. Today, because it is related to acupuncture and wellness, I am sharing with you what we have been doing this autumn with a wild plant found and collected locally.

We have gathered Mugwort or Artemisia vulgaris, which in Chinese Medicine is known as Ai Ye. It is considered warming (it is especially known as "warming the womb" and is used frequently to treat women with infertility.) One common way it is used is burned as moxa or moxabustion on or over acupuncture points or on acupuncture needles.

You can read a testimonial from Birch Center acupuncturist David Sokulski's patient, who came to see him with infertility. He treated her with a combination of acupuncture and moxibustion (as she describes) and the result: a beautiful baby girl! Read her story here.

This month we made our own moxa and smudges (which are used to clear energy) with wild local mugwort. Mugwort grows everywhere in Pittsburgh! It is considered by most to be a weed. It grows along the river, in the parks, in our yard, in vacant lots, along the get the picture. One way to recognize it is to look at the underside of its feathery leaves: they will be white. This is a trademark of all Artemisia, connecting them to Artemis, the goddess of the moon. (The silvery white underside of its leaves links it to the moon.) If you crush the leaves in your hand you will notice a delicious fragrant aroma. You have found Artemisia vulgaris. (If you are ever able to go on a wild edibles walk with us, we point it out every time! To hear about our walks, sign up for Food Under Foot's newsletter.)

First we harvested lots of mugwort and we hung it to dry:

Once dry, we bundled it into smudges. To some of them we added lavender. Here is Ella bundling the smudges.

Here are the finished smudges, which are available to purchase at the Birch Center. Proceeds from the smudge sales go to benefit Animal Friends (a no kill shelter) and Western PA Humane Society (from where we adopted our dear dog Maggie, who passed away last year.)

We also took the loose leaves from the mugwort and crushed them into moxa. The white on the underside of the leaves is actually a fiber, and it is this fiber which makes the moxabustion:

Here is a picture of a burning moxa cone:

Our handmade moxa is so wonderful: green and incredibly fragrant, as are the smudges, which I cannot get enough of! The smudges burn slowly (you need to relight them unlike incense) and will last a long time.

Moxa is warming and moves energy and is used often in acupuncture treatments.

Call us with questions or to schedule an appointment: (412) 381-0116.

As the weather gets colder it is a great time for an acupuncture tune-up, or to deal with those nagging symptoms before winter.

Talk to you soon!

David and Melissa Sokulski
licensed acupuncturists

Birch Center for Health

(412) 381-0116

Read all of Dave's clients' testimonials here!

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