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San Fu Moxibustion


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San Fu Moxibustion


HEAVENLY MOXIBUSTION AND SAN FU  DOG DAYS OF SUMMER

 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.  

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Dates and Points


Dates and Points


SAN FU DATES THROUGH 2022

  • 2018: July 17, July 27, August 6, August 16
  • 2019: July 12, July 22, August 1, August 11
  • 2020: July 16, July 26, August 5, August 15
  • 2021: July 11, July 21, July 31, August 10
  • 2022: July 16, July 26, August 5, August 15

EXAMPLE POINT STRUCTURE I

  • First Fu Day: Ding Chuan, UB 12, UB 13 / Diffuses lung, calms panting
  • Second Fu Day: Du 14, UB 14, UB 20 / Fortifies spleen, transforms phlegm
  • Third Fu Day: UB 11, UB 23, UB 43 / Supplements kidneys to absorb Qi

EXAMPLE POINT STRUCTURE II

Dazhui (DU14), Feishu (UB13), Tiantu (REN22), Danzhong (REN17), Zhongfu (LU1) and Shenshu (UB23)

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San Fu Moxibustion Follow-up Care


San Fu Moxibustion Follow-up Care


What to Expect and Follow-Up Care

 Marks which appeared immediately after removal

Marks which appeared immediately after removal

Everyone reacts differently to the San Fu application and it can be hard to gauge exactly what your body will do until you try it. Common reactions include: 

  • A sensation of heat, redness, and itching at the site of application
  • Slight fever
  • Sore throat or flu like symptoms lasting approximately 24 hours
  • Blisters
  • Most people will have red dots that are about the same color as a sun burn when they first remove the applications
  • Some people will have blisters that can take up to 72 hours to appear.

The color, size, appearance and location of the blisters will vary - sometimes only a few of the points will blister while other points that were applied at the same time will appear seemingly unaffected. The skin may also start to darken and create a thin scab like covering which will eventually fall off to expose healed pink "baby" skin underneath.

 Blisters appeared 2 days after application 

Blisters appeared 2 days after application 

  • Remove the San Fu applications after 6 hours or if they start to become overly hot and itchy - whichever comes first. 
     
  • Wash the skin with with soap and water followed by gently patting the skin dry with a clean cloth or towel. 
     
  • If blisters appear, treat them as you would with any normal blister. Keep the area clean and once the fluid comes out, do not remove the top layer of skin. Keep the wound clean at all times and cover with a band aid during the day to keep it protected. Feel free to use Neosporin or a topical cream that works well for you. Do not use medicinals known for taking the heat out of a burn because you want to be sure to preserve the Yang herbal remedies that were delivered through the dermis into the muscle layer. However, you do want to insure that the blister does not become infected as it heals.
     
  • As with all wounds, depending on your skin you may scar. Wheat germ oil, tamanu oil, or lavender oil all work wonders do lighten the color of scars and are easily purchased through Amazon or at a local natural food store. 

 

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San Fu Moxibustion Further Resources


San Fu Moxibustion Further Resources


It was an article in The Journal of Chinese Medicine written by Dr. Lorraine Wilcox that led to my obsession with San Fu Moxibustion. Her book, Moxibustion: A Clinical Handbook, is the singularly best book on moxibustion written in English to date. Dr. Wilcox includes an entire section on San Fu that deep dives into studies, different herbal San Fu formulas, point protocols, future San Fu dates, and overall theory. Both the article and her book are written for practitioners and students of Chinese Medicine; I encourage anyone interested in offering this to patients in their own private practice to procure both the original article and her book. 

  San Fu Moxibustion and Lung Related Disorders  by Lorraine Wilcox, L.Ac.

San Fu Moxibustion and Lung Related Disorders by Lorraine Wilcox, L.Ac.

Moxibustion:A Modern Clinical Handbook
By Lorraine Wilcox, L.Ac.