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What is moxibustion?

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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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.