Moxibustion (moxa) is the application of heat into a specific acupuncture point on the body. It originates from traditional Chinese medicine and is commonly used in traditional acupuncture treatment.

Often acupuncture and moxibustion will be used together during a single treatement.

The history of moxibustion

Traditionally, moxibustion is the burning of a specific herb called ai ye (mugwort). The moxa is placed about 1 inch above an acupuncture point to pour heat into it. The heat is a form of therapy that aids the flow of qi (energy) and blood in the body, thereby restoring good health.

The different types of moxibustion

There are two types of moxibustion: the traditional herb ai ye that is moulded into a small cone and lit and the modern smokeless moxa sticks.

The burning of mugwort generates a lot of smoke, which affect people with sensitive respiratory system and can set off a smoke alarm. Smokeless moxa that does the same job without generating a lot of smoke.

Because the moxa stick has to be held by a person, only one acupuncture point can be stimulated at one time, unless you have an army of people all holding moxa sticks.

How moxibustion works

Moxibustion works by directing heat into a specific part of the body that maybe suffering from cold or is stagnated.

The health benefits of moxa

Today, moxibustion is used to treat a variety of problems, such as

  • In the treatment of breech presentations, to turn a breech baby
  • To help reduce the side effects of chemotherapy
  • To help with arthritis
  • To improve fertility by aiding blood flow to the uterus

Clinical trials have shown that it can be of benefit during labour.

Is moxibustion painful?

No, moxibustion is not painful. You will feel a pleasant sensation of warmth, which isn’t painful.

Is moxibustion safe?

Moxibustion is safe when used properly. Not paying attention to the moxa stick, not holding it with two hands or looking away can cause the end of the moxa stick to touch the body, which can burn the skin.

What are the side effects?

Moxibustion does not have any side effects, it is not painful, just a little warm so is quite comfortable. However, if the moxa stick is left in one place for too long, it can can burn the skin and cause scarring. Burning the traditional herb ai ye moxa can affect asthmatics and set of a smoke alarm.

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About Attilio

Doctor of Chinese medicine, acupuncture expert and author of My Fertility Guide and My Pregnancy Guide.