Moxibustion is a form of heat therapy in which dried plant materials called “moxa” are burned on or very near the surface of the skin. The intention is to warm and invigorate the flow of Qi in the body and dispel certain pathogenic influences.
Moxa is usually made from the dried leafy material of Chinese mugwort (Artemesia argyi or A.vlugaris), but it can be made of other substances as well.
What exactly does the practitioner do?
There are two common ways the practitioners uses moxa. The first way is to make small cones of moxa to put directly on an acupuncture point. The cone is lite with incense and burnt down until the patient feels the warmth. Each acupuncture point has a specific number of cones per treatment. The second way is to hold a burning moxa stick close to, but not touching, the surface of the skin. This oversized looking cigar is allowed to smolder and the practitioner moves it in circles over an area. Both methods produce a unique form of very penetrating heat.
What can I expect to feel?
It is not uncommon for patients receiving moxibustion to report a sudden flooding of warmth that quickly radiates along a specific pathway (usually corresponding with the jing luo channel that is being treated) away from the site of application. This is a good result, as it indicates the arrival of the Qi and signals that the flow of Qi and xue has been freed in the channel.
When is moxibustion used?
Moxibustion is used for:
- Pain due to injury or arthritis, especially in “cold” patterns where the pain naturally feels better with the application of heat
- Digestive problems and irregular elimination
- Gynecological and obstetrical conditions, including breech presentation in late term pregnancy
- Protection against cold and flu strains
Practitioners often do both acupuncture and moxibustion in the same clinic session when appropriate to the diagnosis and treatment strategy. Practitioners believe that the therapies increase each other’s effectiveness when used together.