This technique of traditional Chinese medicine is a process where healing is assisted by the burning of mugwort. Mugwort is a herb that is spongy and small, but according to traditional Chinese medicine, it has amazing healing properties to it. Moxibustion is a healing process which has been used for thousands of years in the East. The benefits of moxibustion are to make the blood stronger and to allow the Qi energy flow to be stimulated. This may assist in the maintenance of a patient’s general health.
What is the moxibustion process like? Will there be any pain?
There is direct moxibustion and indirect moxibustion. If the practitioner uses direct moxibustion, this involves placing a small amount of moxa on a specific point on the body. This is typically the acupoint determined by the practitioner. Once the moxa is on there, it is burnt and commences healing support. Sometimes direct moxibustion is considered to be scarring moxibustion and other times it is non-scarring moxibustion. The difference has to do with how long the burning moxa is kept on the acupoint. If it is left there until it completely burns away then it’ll leave burn scars and blisters on the area, even after the healing process is over. When the moxibustion process is non-scarring, the burning moxa is removed from the acupoint before it has a chance to burn the flesh. All the patient will feel is a relaxing heat sensation which will sink down into the underlayers of their skin. The heat won’t be too extreme, which means there won’t be any blisters, pain, or scarring.(1,2)
Indirect moxibustion is the most widely used form of moxibustion because it poses very little risk to the patient. In other words, there is very little burning or pain associated with it. During this process, the practitioner takes a moxa stick, similar to a cigar, and lights one end of it. The practitioner will then place the lit end of the stick near the acupoint for a period of time. Once there is redness on the skin, the practitioner stops. (1,2)
Sometimes moxa and needles are used for indirect moxibustion. The practitioner will gently insert a needle into the area and wrap the other end of it with moxa. Then, they will light the moxa, which produces heat for the acupoint and the area around it. Upon completion, the practitioner will extinguish the flaming moxa and then remove the needle from the area.(1,2)
Moxa treatment can be used to assist the stimulation of blood circulation and treat warm and cold conditions. Traditional Chinese medical practitioners would use moxibustion on patients who were stagnant or had a cold condition. The theory is that when moxa is burning over the acupoints, it will draw out the coldness from the meridians and bring warmth to them. This allows Qi energy and blood to flow more smoothly.(1,2)
Moxibustion is sometimes used to help symptoms of menstrual cramps, diarrhea, fatigue, and assist calming down pregnant women. (1,2)
1 Ganglin Yin , Zhenghua Liu (1999), Advanced Modern Chinese Acupuncture Therapy, China, New World Press,
2 Mark Crisip, “Moxbustion”, Science based Medicine, 18, 4, 2014 https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/moxibustion/, [Accessed , 15 May. 2018].