What is moxibustion?

Dr. Daniel Hsu, DAOM
Alternative & Complementary Medicine
Moxibustion is a traditional Chinese medicine technique used in conjunction with acupuncture to enhance its effect. In this technique, a Chinese herb called mugwort or Artemisia Vulgaris is used to heat an acupuncture point, particularly in the treatment of certain debilitating conditions as well as arthritis and pain. Moxa is usually rolled into a stick, lit, and held over specific areas of the body. It can also be placed onto the handle of an acupuncture needle for deeper penetration of heat.
Dr. David L. Katz, MD, MPH
Preventive Medicine
Moxibustion is an acupuncture technique involving moxa, the herb mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris). In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), this herb is used to invigorate the flow of Qi (chi, in TCM, it is the energy that keeps us from falling ill, the energy that forces our heart to beat, or cells to divide) and blood, promote a pain-relieving effect, and deeply penetrate the area of discomfort with soothing warmth.

In moxibustion, the moxa herb is lit on fire and can either be placed on top of the needle (Needle Moxa); applied without the use of needles, as it can be burned in stick form as the acupuncturist hovers and swirls the stick of burning moxa above various acupuncture points; or the moxa can be indirectly placed on various acupoints on the body using a thin slice of ginger or other barrier to shield the skin. Moxibustion is particularly effective for cases like tight muscle spasms, low back pain, frozen shoulder, or various osteoarthritic joint pains, especially when pain is worsened by damp and cold weather.

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