Moxabustion is a traditional Chinese therapy using 'moxa' or mugwort herb. It is usually ground into a fluff and hand rolled into cones for direct use on the skin. It is also used indirectly on the end of a needle.
Moxa is used to warm the skin, inducing circulation and the flow of qi. It is especially effective in the treatment of chronic problems, weakness, or 'deficient' conditions. Often combined with acupuncture, a moxa cone is applied to an acupuncture point to build and reinforce 'qi' or energy. The cone is lit with an incense stick and smolders, until plucked from the skin. The sensation is gently warming, without pain. The further needling of the point drives the qi into the energy pathways, supplementing and supporting the body.
Indirect moxabustion is a popular at-home application. The ground moxa is processed into a cigar-like stick. Once lit, it is slowly waved over an area that needs healing, benefiting from induced circulation and warmth. The heat from the moxa stick penetrates the skin, influencing the blood and qi below the surface. When the area turns red or is warm to the touch, the treatment is complete.
Moxa has been used as a topical medicine to treat cold or stagnant conditions. Research has shown moxa to be effective as an emmenogogue, treating painful menstrual cramping and breeched pregnancies. It is also helpful in treating osteoarthritis, minor wounds and bruising or sprains.
Use caution with moxabustion if your health condition is agitated by the application of heat, if you have been diagnosed with excess heat by an acupuncturist, or are significantly effected by a pungent smoky atmosphere.