Moxibustion refers to the burning of Chinese Mugwort (or Moxa) – normally as an accompanyment to acupuncture or tui na in order to provide a gentle source of heat. It can be used as a way of stimulating acupoints, or used to warm a whole area.
There are a few ways of using moxa – it can be attached to the end of an acupuncture needle, or made into a cone which is then placed onto the body on top of a protective medium such as a slice of ginger or layer or salt (depending on the desired outcome) or a moxa stick is used. A moxa stick is a tube of densely packed moxa which is lit at one end and then brought near to the effected area to warm it up.
Moxibustion has the effect of stimulating circulation and healing, warming the body and dispelling Cold. It is especially useful for people and conditions which are worse in the cold and respond well to heat. It is commonly used for pain, infertility, and weakness or lack of energy. It is also used during pregnancy for breech presentation and is an essential component in many of the traditional techniques for health maintenance. It is very pleasant and relaxing to receive.
Many of the ancient doctors recommended moxa on points such as Ren4 or Ren6 (the Dan Tien) or St36 (leg 3 miles) in order to ‘nourish life’, prevent ageing and increase longevity. Regular use of moxa on points such as these was seen to have a qi-enhancing and life-preserving nature and was performed routinely after the age of around 30. I find these practices extremely useful, but unfortunately they are rarely performed these days, even by acupuncturists.
All acupuncturists and most tui na therapists will be trained in the use of moxibustion. Moxa sticks are also suitable for home use, provided you have been shown the correct technique.
More information about moxa and other supplementary Chinese therapies, as I use them in my clinic, is available here