San Fu paste applied to the upper back

San Fu paste applied to the upper back

Mugwort is not the only type of "moxibustion" used; there has been a resurgence of Heavenly Moxibustion in recent years - a practice dating back to the Qing Dynasty that has become the subject of a number of clinical trials. Instead of mugwort, the treatment uses herbs ground into a powder, mixed with fresh ginger juice into a paste, and taped to points to treat asthma, lung disorders, and allergies which affect the upper respiratory system. The treatment is traditionally done on specific days in summer according to the Chinese calendar and Daoist astrology- hence the name "heavenly" since it is in part based on where we are in the heavens at that time of year.

San Fu is sometimes translated as the "three hidings" since it references three 10-day periods that are predicted to be the hottest days of the year - or what we sometimes call in English "the dog days of summer". The treatment is given on the first day of each Fu period; so the patient comes in once every 10 days to have the paste taped to points mostly located either on their back or lower legs. Traditional Chinese hospitals are known to have lines out the doors on the Fu days with patients waiting for hours to have their points taped.

Not only does our geographic location affect our health (there's a reason people move to Arizona), but so does our tenure on any given point on the calendar. 

What's interesting to note in clinical studies is that they tested the effectiveness of the treatment regimen on the San Fu days against regular days in the calendar. The treatment was more effective on the noted dates in the calendar!  The recommendation that came out of the studies suggested that if the strict regime was too difficult, to stick as close to the dates as possible and at a minimum try to ensure the treatment was done in summer.