What is Japanese Acupuncture and Moxibustion?

Cameron receiving an award in Japan for contributions to the field.

Japanese Acupuncture 針灸
Gentle Cousin to Chinese Medicine
Cameron Bishop DAOM, L.Ac.  


Twenty some years ago I went to Japan to study sword and Aikido. Along the way I injured my shoulder doing acrobatics only young men do.

I went to the local medical doctor who prescribed a few things and had x-rays. It did not improve much and finally he said "We all go to the acupuncturist. We just thought you would not be interested being a Westerner".

I went thinking it would be a good beer story to tell the guys. I walked into the office, removed my shoes by custom, and was greeted. The fourth generation acupuncture clinic was on the first floor and the family residence on the second. The father was a blind acupuncturist and the son my acupuncturist. His mother showed me into a room with three beds separated by curtains and told me to strip to my shorts. It was cold.

The son came took my pulse, felt my abdomen, palpated my shoulder and proceeded to work on me. During the treatment his curious grandmother strolled through to peak at the foreigner. The room had several treatment tables separated by curtains leaving little privacy.

This was my first acupuncture experience. It was gentle, painless and effective. There are many schools of acupuncture in Japan. In fact Japan medicalized sooner than China and the style reflects it. In the USA acupuncture is dominated by Peoples Republic of China acupuncture style. Simply because they were here first. However, throughout Asia there are many types of acupuncture. Japan is no exception. Training in Japanese acupuncture is usually a post graduate program over a course of a year leading to membership in a Japanese Acupuncture association, such as, "Toyohari". Members continue their training often in Japan and continuous trainings. Although some acupuncturists may take a single weekend course, look for someone consistently involved.


Japanese Moxibustion お灸

Mugwort is a common weed that grows about the world. It is kin to Sage and has a beautiful purple flower. Some of the oldest books of medicine speak of the use of it for healing the body. Many religious systems use it for spiritual work.It is used throughout the world. 

It has been used hand-in-hand with acupuncture for several thousand years. It is also used as a home remedy. Japanese law allows its use by priests, medical doctors, acupuncturists, moxibustionist, and family members. In the US it is generally restricted to those licensed in acupuncture. Each state is different but it is included in Acupuncture licensure in the State of Florida.

Moxa therapy involves the placement moxa flower fluff on top of herbal liquid which is lit on fire in order to steam the herbs into the body. The Mugwort plant has components that are known to help regulate the immune system, stop pain and spasm. The heating has an effect to stimulate the bodies sensory nerve cells. Fascinating studies are being done and have been done on the organ skin system and the use of mugwort, heat and touch.