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Moxibustion 101: What is Moxibustion Therapy?

Health & Wellness
Last Updated Aug 21, 2020

Moxibustion therapy is a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) treatment that assists in expeling cold and damp from the body.  Also, It is useful in helping with various health conditions, such aches, colds and flu, and even poor digestion.  Read this article to learn more.

What is moxibustion therapy?

Moxibustion is a therapy consisting of burning dried herb called Mugwort.  The herb, or moxa, can take many forms, such as cigar-like moxa rolls, raw rice grain sized pieces, and compressed smokeless cones and sticks. In TCM, Mugwort is considered to be warm, bitter, and acrid when used in herbal prescriptions.  When it is burnt, it has similar properties and, therefore, its warming nature is useful for dispelling cold and damp from the body as well as warming the body’s energy channels. The bitter and acrid properties of Mugwort help to clear phlegm, break stagnation, and rectify the qi energy and blood.  Moxibustion can also be considered to be a parallel therapy to acupuncture, being used to stimulate the flow of qi at certain points on the body that are selected for their specific function. Moxibustion has two forms – direct and indirect.

How does moxibustion work?

The raw moxa can be burnt as rice grain sized pieces directly on acupuncture points to stimulate the function of the corresponding point.  It can also be burnt over the point as a moxa roll to indirectly warm the point and meridian. Moxa can be placed in a moxa box to warm an area like the back or the lower abdomen. In addition, It can be rubbed down the meridian in a lion or tiger warmer or it can be placed on the end of an inserted acupuncture needle to strengthen the stimulation of an acupuncture point.

Direct moxibustion will be used to stimulate specific points or, in scarring moxibustion, a point is burnt so that it is continuously being stimulated by the healing process.  Indirect moxibustion will be used when a larger area such as a muscle group or meridian is to be treated. It is also preferred treatment form for children. Special techniques like burning moxa on salt or ginger can be used.  It should be remembered that there is no need to be concerned about the therapy’s burning factor as it is very safe when it is performed by a qualified and skilled therapist of TCM. However, there are some points on the body that are not suitable for moxibustion due to risk of dizziness or swelling but the therapist will assess any risk factors before starting the treatment.

What is moxibustion used for?

The following are some disorder that moxibustion therapy is useful for:

  • digestive disorders like food stagnation or diarrhea 
  • painful menstrual periods
  • sexual dysfunction
  • poor memory or concentration 
  • sports and dance related injuries
  • frozen shoulders
  • cold weather related pains and aches
  • colds and flu

To experience this treatment, find a moxibustion practitioner in your area today!

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Originally published on Jun 22, 2008

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