Moxibustion is the act of burning and applying Moxa, otherwise known as dried Mugwort, an herb used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to warm regions of the body, move Qi (energy) and blood, and maintain general health. It is used to treat conditions associated with the “cold” or “yang deficiencies” and helps eliminate cold and dampness in the body. It is also common to be used to treat arthritis, digestive issues, menstrual cramps and turn breech babies. Moxa can be purchased and used in many forms; sticks, cones, grains, and loose. I prefer prepackaged single use stick-on moxa or cigar-like rolled sticks which can be used multiple times (until they reach about the 1-2 inches in length and then should be discarded simply for safety purposes).
The moxibustion process is simple and affordable yet it is serious therapy so it important you respect it. You are literally playing with fire and the cigar-like rolls are sometimes difficult to extinguish and should not left be unattended – I have found a glass jar with sand works the best. Moxa can be used to warm several places on the body……….. however some areas of the body are inappropriate and frankly not safe, so I would encourage you talk with your therapist before trying this at home. Over the next couple of months I will post either pictures or video of common acupuncture points that moxa can be used on however I would still highly recommend you talk to someone trained in the use of moxa to know if it it right for you; help you decide which points to treat; and how long to continue the treatment.
When burned, Moxa emits a large amount of deep, penetrating heat and a strong odor that people either love or hate. I would recommend using outdoors. Stick-ons may be used indoors but open many windows and know that they produce a great deal of smoke that tends to linger.
Moxibustion evolved thousands of years ago in early northern China. It is known as a part of the traditional Chinese medical practices and was developed near the same time as acupuncture. It can be used alone or with acupuncture and is often taught by practitioners to their patients as a self-therapy practice/homework to be applied multiple times between appointments.
There are several methods of moxibustion, but I think the two most common are direct moxibustion and in-direct moxibustion. Direct moxibustion is moxa applied to the skin and burned usually on a specific acupuncture point or points. This has the potential to cause a blister and possibly scarring which may or may not be intentional. Yes, some Chinese traditions deliberately induce scarring, however this technique is not often used in the United States.
Indirect moxibustion involves either burning the moxa above the skin in a container or by using the cigar-like roll. If using loose moxa shaped into cones practitioners may place a layer of ginger, garlic, or salt (or a combo) on the person’s skin, and then place the burning moxa on top of it.
It is not uncommon for patients receiving moxibustion to feel a gradual warmth in the area being treated or a sudden flooding of warmth that quickly radiates along a specific pathway, or meridian, away from the site of application. This is a good sign, and indicates the arrival of the Qi and signifies that the flow of Qi has been freed in the channel.
I hope you have found this post helpful and I wish you grace on your journey to health and wellness. If I can ever be of any assistance please leave me a comment below or contact via me my other website personalizedbodywork.com
If you enjoyed this post you may also want to check out my posts on fire cupping and gua sha.
In Life, Love & Laughter,
Tamara (Tammy) Nicklas