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Natural Immune Booster: Herbal Medicine & San Fu Moxa in Summer for Winter Wellness

Updated: Jul 1

Store the medicine of Summer deep in the body for Winter wellness. Yes, seriously!

5 large moxa cones are gently burning on a person's back

I’m excited to offer San Fu Moxibustion treatments this Summer. Most of my patients are familiar with the use of mugwort moxibustion to build qi and other resources such as yin and yang during our treatments. In typical treatments, we put some cream on the skin and then use a few cones of mugwort moxa to warm the acupuncture points and build qi.  While this is a beloved treatment technique by many, there are other forms and ways of performing moxibustion to tonify a person’s constitution. As popularized in the U.S. by Dr. Heidi Lovie and Lorraine Wilcox, San Fu moxa, or Heavenly Moxibustion, is a unique treatment we can offer over the summer for Winter wellness, immunity, and even to prevent spring allergies.

About San Fu Moxa

With the long, warm days of Summer, we say that there is abundant “Yang” energy around us and within us, which contrasts the cold, dark energy of Winter. During these Yang Summer months, with a principle called dōng bìng xià zhì, we can treat winter illnesses in the summer. San Fu is a yang treatment that ensures our health, vitality, and warmth through the Winter.

“The basic theory of San Fu treatment combines the effective use of hot herbs applied to acupuncture points on the body during the hottest (i.e., most Yang) days of Summer. Doing so very aggressively expels cold that may linger in the body and also support the Yang and the Upright.” -Dr. Henry McCan

This practice dates back to the Qing Dynasty. Instead of warming mugwort on top of the acupuncture points, 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.

"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.” -Dr. Heidi Lovie

Can San Fu really boost immunity naturally?

San Fu Moxa is particularly recommended for individuals with chronic respiratory conditions such as asthma, allergic rhinitis, and bronchitis. The treatment is said to strengthen the lungs, improve immune function, and reduce the frequency and severity of respiratory symptoms. It is also used for patients suffering from joint pain, gastrointestinal disorders, and general fatigue when these issues stem from a diagnosed “Yang deficiency”. 

While this is not a widely practiced medicine in the US, we have some promising data about the effectiveness of “acupoint herbal patching” from a series of systematic reviews and meta-analyses published over the last few years. Close to 1,000 clinical studies have been published about San Fu moxa; these articles compile information from various studies and validate that it works better than placebo and/or typical Western medical care:

Who should not be treated with San Fu moxa?

Patients with “Yin deficiency” or “excess heat” are not good candidates for this treatment– this can translate to a myriad of symptoms including running hot, being hot headed, or being headache prone. An Acupuncturist can confirm if you're a good candidate for San Fu moxa. Additionally, patients with skin conditions such as eczema, dermatitis, or broken skin should not receive San Fu treatments.

It’s also not appropriate for pregnant folks.

How do I get a San Fu treatment?

This year, in the San Francisco office location, we will offer 15 minute San Fu appointments to patients that would be a good fit for this incredible, rejuvenating practice. If you’re curious if it’s a good fit for you, ask at your next appointment or get in touch.

This treatment is only available for Glowing Gate Acupuncture patients as Ally needs to approve of the treatment for the person’s individual constitution. If you’re a current patient, get in touch with Ally to confirm that you’re a good candidate. If you’re interested in becoming a patient and receiving San Fu treatment, book a free 15 consultation call ASAP.

In 2024, the official San Fu dates are:

  • Monday July 15

  • Thursday July 25

  • Sunday August 4 *This third San Fu date coincides with my family trip to the East Coast, so I will offer the third appointment Tuesday August 6th instead of the traditional Sunday August 4th.

  • Wednesday August 14

It’s recommended that you do all 4 visits to get the best results possible; since spots are limited, you may want to sign up for all appointments ahead of time. Sign ups for 2024 dates are open on our Jane platform.

Get More Info

Patients intending to receive this treatment should watch Dr. Heidi Lovie’s explanatory video to prepare for the treatment and review the San Fu Follow Up section of her website. These two things will ensure that you’re well informed about the treatment and follow-up care.

If it’s the right fit for you, I hope to see you in the clinic to try out this powerful preventative treatment strategy.

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