Moxibustion (Chinese: 灸; pinyin: jiǔ) is a traditional Chinese medicine therapy which consists of burning dried mugwort (moxa) on particular points on the body. It plays an important role in the traditional medical systems of China (including Tibet), Japan, Korea, Vietnam and Mongolia.
Suppliers usually age the mugwort and grind it up to a fluff; practitioners burn the fluff or process it further into a cigar-shaped stick or loose type of moxo. They can use it indirectly, with acupuncture needles, or burn it on the patient’s skin.
Practitioners use moxa to warm regions and meridian points with the intention of stimulating circulation through the points and inducing a smoother flow of blood and qi.
Moxo can treat conditions associated with the “cold” or “yang deficiencies” in Chinese Medicine. It is claimed that moxibustion mitigates against cold and dampness in the body, and can serve to turn breech babies.
Moxibustion can be especially effective in the treatment of chronic problems, “deficient conditions” (weakness), and gerontology. Bian Que (fl. circa 500 BCE), one of the most famous semi-legendary doctors of Chinese antiquity and the first specialist in moxibustion, discussed the benefits of moxa over acupuncture in his classic work Bian Que Neijing. He asserted that moxa could add new energy to the body and could treat both excess and deficient conditions.
Practitioners may use acupuncture needles made of various materials in combination with moxa, depending on the direction of qi flow they wish to stimulate.
There are several methods of moxibustion. Three of them are direct scarring, direct non-scarring, and indirect moxibustion. Direct scarring moxibustion places a small cone of moxa on the skin at an acupuncture point and burns it until the skin blisters, which then scars after it heals. Direct non-scarring moxibustion removes the burning moxa before the skin burns enough to scar, unless the burning moxa is left on the skin too long. Indirect moxibustion holds a cigar made of moxa near the acupuncture point to heat the skin, or holds it on an acupuncture needle inserted in the skin to heat the needle. There is also stick-on moxa.
Conditions treated by Moxibustion:
- chronic problems,
- “deficient conditions” (weakness)