Moxa Mugwort Zusanli St-36 Longevity


Moxibustion, or Moxa for short, is an ancient form of heat therapy that originated in China. Moxa uses the ground up leaves of the medicinal plant Mugwort (Artemesia vulgaris). These are either rolled into sticks (indirect Moxa: as practiced by Green Alchemy) or the powdery substance is made into tiny cones and burned on ointment or a ginger slice(direct Moxa) During Moxa treatment, the smoldering Moxa stick is held a few centimeters away from the skin, above the acupuncture point. The practitioner will monitor the heat level and work with the patient to provide a therapeutic level of heat while maintaining comfort and safety.

Burning Moxa has a distinct aroma which many people find very relaxing. The essential oils in Mugwort have a significant effect as a form of aromatherapy or medicinal incense. For centuries Mugwort has been used by healers and shamans to dispel evil. In European folk tradition Mugwort was placed into dream pillows to help prevent bad dreams and ward off nefarious spirits.

Moxa in general has more or less the same efficacy as acupuncture. However, medical experiments have shown that Moxibustion exerts much wider and stronger effect on overall biochemical changes in the body than acupuncture. For example: it increases the production of white blood cells. The white blood cell count begins to increase immediately after direct Moxibustion treatment.

Moxa increases the production of red blood cells and haemoglobin. Clinical research validates that subjects who had an average haemoglobin ratio of 78% just before direct Moxibustion show a steady increase in haemoglobin production reaching a peak of 90% in eight weeks.

Moxa improves the overall blood and lymph circulations and the capacity to produce antibodies. Due to rather intense heat of burning Moxa over acu-points, impulses from nerve endings of the skin cause the dilation of capillaries (small vessels) to increase the blood and lymph circulations in the entire body. It is often the case that the patient feels warm, relaxed and sleepy from this effect after Moxibustion treatment. People who suffer from constant circulation or cold feeling in the hands and feet can greatly benefit from Moxibustion.

One of the most effective Moxa techniques is for extreme cases of diarrhea. For this, the acupuncturist puts salt in the navel of the supine (lying down) patient, and puts a cone of direct moxa on top of this. The salt protects the skin and conducts the heat well. This technique is very effective; it regulates the large intestine's re-absorption of water immediately.


One of the most famous preventative Moxa therapies is to do indirect Moxibustion on St-36 (Stomach 36 /Zu San Li) a point one hand's width below the patella (knee cap) Zu San Li means 'Foot Three Miles' and increases endurance, digestive power, and stimulates the immune system.

Clinical research now posits that stimulating St-36 increases ‘Maximum Oxygen Uptake.’ It is known that increased Maximum Oxygen Uptake prevents and improves recovery time from diseases such as hypertension and diabetes. Maximum Oxygen Uptake also decreases the cancer rate. Thus, we may assume that the modern idea of maintaining health by increasing Maximum Oxygen Uptake is based on the same mechanism as our traditional wisdom for attaining longevity by stimulating St 36.

St-36 is located on the network called the Stomach Meridian. Stimulation of St-36 not only enlivens the point but also the entire meridian and stomach organ. According to this classic medical theory, the organ and meridian of the stomach are a part of the foundation of our life energy. Thus, stimulation on St-36 not only affects the leg where St-36 is located, but also affects the health of the whole body.


Preventing illness before it rears its ugly head is the core idea in Acupuncture and Moxibustion theory. Ancient Chinese physicians observed the early stages of decline in health, which precedes illness proper, also manifests subtle symptoms. They believed it wise to treat illnesses at this stage. This stage is called ‘Mi Bing’ which means ‘before illness.’ 'Mi Bing' is closely related to the idea of longevity and Moxibustion on the acupuncture point St-36


A Japanese folk tale from the Edo era (1603-1867) about Farmer Manpei tells that when Manpei was asked whether he had any secret to maintaining long life, he answered that he had no secret other than burning Moxa on St-36 every day, just as his ancestors had done. It is recorded that Manpei lived 243 years; his wife, Taku, lived 242 and their son, Mankichi, lived 196 years.

In recent records, it is well known that Doctor Shimetaro Hara used to burn Moxa on his St-36 every day and he lived to be over 100 years of age.

A story about St-36 which is very familiar to the Japanese is the first sentence of Haiku Master Basho Matsuo's diary (1689) 'Okuno Hosomichi (Narrow Passages in the Back Country' He writes, "I have sewn a torn part of my undergarments. I have changed the strings of my hat. I have burnt Moxa on my St-36. My mind is now totally occupied with the moon over the Matsushima islands.." He was ready for a long walk of 1,500 miles after burning Moxa on St-36. Our ancestors knew very well that Moxibustion on St-36 has the effect of invigorating the mind and body and speeding recovery from fatigue.


Because St-36 is so widely used by acupuncturists it is naturally included in combinations with numerous other points. Certain combinations appear with especially high frequency. Probably the most frequent combination is with Hegu (Large Intestine-4). In ‘Modern Clinical Necessities for Acupuncture’ treatment with this combination of points is cited as a successful treatment for the new application of giving up smoking.

(A special thanks to for contributing a large body of research material for this article)