Respiratory Problems and Moxa: Implications and Clarifications
The following letter was written in response to "Acupuncture Point Warming in the New Millennium: Finding a Safe, Smokeless Alternative" by Matthew J.
Robinson, which appeared in the May 2005 issue. Mr. Robinson's reply appears after the letter.
I am troubled to hear that Mr. Robinson has developed asthma or any kind of respiratory problems in our clinic (Newton Acupuncture Clinic). This is not quite true. I have known Matthew since he applied to the New England School of Acupuncture. He was a student of mine, as well as an assistant at our clinic (assisting Kiiko Matsumoto). Ever since I have known him, Matthew presented with a personal sensitivity to burning substances, i.e., moxa, incense, etc. It troubles me that he claims that he developed his respiratory problem while working with Kiiko or myself. We are getting calls from students and assistants concerned about the safety of our practice.
I have worked alongside Kiiko for the last 14 years, and am an acupuncturist having practiced moxibustion for much longer than that. Neither Kiiko nor myself (or any other acupuncturist working at this clinic permanently) has developed any kind of respiratory problem. It makes me wonder how he developed his breathing problem at our clinic, coming for only a few hours once a week. I know Matthew has an agenda to sell an electric heater as a substitute to the Tiger warmer, but I do no like that he associates his health problems with our clinic. He has a problem with his breathing, so he wants to sell his device. This has nothing to do with the Newton Acupuncture Clinic.
David Euler, LAc Newton, Massachusetts
Mr. Robinson's response:
Unfortunately, Mr. Euler seems to have missed the intent of my article. It did not point, or even imply, blame of Mr. Euler's clinic for my sensitivity to moxa. It rather stated that I have developed a chronic cough and asthma after years of smoke inhalation, which has occurred in a variety of acupuncture treatment settings, including my own private practice, over the past five years. Ultimately, my problem may have developed from a constitutional lung deficiency exacerbated by chronic exposure to smoke. Whatever the case, if this has helped me to develop a safe, smokeless alternative to fire-based point-warming methods, then some good has come from my experience. My article was intended only to suggest a solution to the limitations and inherent dangers associated with the practice of warming acupuncture points using a burning substance.
The point-warming device was developed to three major issues. One is to eliminate smoke and odor so that point-warming can be practice in smoke-free professional settings by and on the growing number of people with smoke allergies. Second, it was designed to eliminate the potential for accidental burns. Third, it encourages a means for safe, patient at-home treatments.
Mr. Euler merely points out the obvious when he states that I want to market a device that I helped develop over the past several years. However, his assertion that my article implicates the Newton Acupuncture Clinic as the cause of my respiratory problem is totally unfounded, as a careful reading of my article clearly indicates.
Matthew J. Robinson, MAc Framingham, Massachusetts