What is Moxibustion?

MoxibustionMoxibustion is a technique in Traditional Chinese Medicine wherein moxa wool (from mugwort herb) is burned and used to promote healing and good health by reinvigorating the blood and stimulating the flow of vital energy or Qi. The herb mugwort has long been used in folk medicine. It is known as an emmenagogue herb, which stimulates menstrual flow.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, mugwort has warm as well as bitter and acrid properties. When mugwort is burnt, its warming properties can drive out the cold from the body while its bitter or acrid nature relieves stagnation, clears phlegm and corrects the flow of blood and Qi.

Moxibustion can be done in two ways: direct and indirect. The direct method uses a small amount of moxa shaped like a cone, which is burned on the surface of an acupuncture point. The moxa can be left on the area after being ignited until it has burnt out or it can be extinguished before the skin is burned. The more popular method is indirect moxibustion where a moxa stick is ignited on one end and held closely to the body surface being treated until it becomes red.

Moxibustion is typically performed along with acupuncture, another centuries-old TCM method using fine needles. When combined with acupuncture, a needle will be inserted into an acupuncture point first and then the practitioner will wrap the needle’s tip with moxa. When the moxa is ignited, it will deliver heat trough the needle to the affected area.

Moxibustion is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to dispel cold and dampness inside the body and warm the energy pathways (meridians) to facilitate smoother circulation of blood and Qi. Moxibustion is recommended specifically for individuals with stagnant body constitutions like people with colds, flu, frozen shoulders, painful menstruation and digestive ailments.

Some individuals who are interested in trying out moxibustion therapy may be concerned about the burning aspect of the technique. As with any form of therapy, moxibustion is safe when it is done by a qualified practitioner. While there are no specific licensing requirements to practice moxibustion in the US, practitioners must still possess a license to practice acupuncture in order to perform moxibustion therapy.

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