Nowadays, there are various kinds of moxibustion products(moxa) available on the
market: from the familiar stick moxa to needle moxa, from loose moxa and smokeless moxa to even moxa sprays, the number of choices can sometimes be overwhelming. This article will help you understand moxa production better, and in turn to understand how to tell a good product from an inferior one, and to finally make an informed decision about which ones to use in your practice.
Moxibustion products are all made from Chinese mugwort (Ai). Mugwort leaves are used to make loose moxa, which can then be made into stick moxa and finally into needle moxa. During this process, different products are produced at every stage of production. In order to guarantee the quality and therefore effectiveness of moxa products, the careful regulation of raw materials and of the production process becomes of paramount importance. Several principles that may seem arcane or even obscure to outsiders are enshrined in moxa productions, and they collectively ensure consistency and quality.
As discussed in another blog post-Differences between Chinese mugwort (Qi mugwort) and others. Qi Mugwort is the best raw material, yielding the highest quality loose moxa. Its leaves are large and thick, with a lot of downy, fine hair on back of the leaves. Lierre chooses to use the best quality Qi mugwort leaves for our moxa products.
Picking the best mugwort leaves from all growing leaves is a difficult task.
The Chinese dragon boat festival is widely considered to be the best time to pick mugwort leaves, as it grows best during this period. It is the fifth day of fifth lunar month of the year. Experienced mugwort leaves picker favour leaves shaped like the human body. Another common selection method is to push down all the mugwort several days before picking leaves. Several days later, pickers will only choose the mugwort leaves that stand up again, because they have proven that they grow better than others.
The next and arguably most important step is to make loose moxa from these leaves. In ancient times, producers would produce it by hand, by first mixing leaves with plant ash and water. They would then mould the mixture into a round plate shape, then sundry and store it. The fully dried product is set on a mixture plate, rubbed repeatedly, and the ashes are filtered out. This last process is repeated until the loose mugwort is free from impurities, which can compromise its quality. This process now is now fully automated: as a result, the filtering process is much faster and more thorough than the traditional manual way.