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Self-Heating Moxa Pads
In modern times, this type of "direct moxa" treatment, where the moxa cones are burned while resting on the skin, have largely been replaced by a variety of indirect moxa methods, especially for Western patients who don't want to risk burning their skin as part of the treatment (in China, forming a blister at the moxibustion site had been considered a good sign of effective application of moxibustion). One method commonly employed today is use of the moxa stick, a tube of moxa leaves with one end burning and the other end held by the person applying the treatment. The smoking moxa stick is held over the area of skin to be treated and pulled away when the patient finds the warmth too strong. Unfortunately, this method produces a lot of smoke; a "smokeless" moxa stick has also been developed, using carbonized moxa leaves.
Self-heating moxa pads, made in Korea, provide another alternative. These pads are cloth packs that contain a large amount of moxa leaf into which has been blended a self-heating combination (iron and activated charcoal). The packs remain cool so long as they are free of oxygen in their original plastic bag; once opened, the heating process is initiated by vigorously shaking the pack. Within five minutes, the pack is heated and it maintains a temperature of 60-75°C (140-165°F) for hours. This is the same technology used for the popular new drugstore products, such as ThermaCare, which are self-heating pads applied to the body. The difference is that the moxa pads are larger and have the added benefit of providing the artemisia vapours.