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Moxibustion is a commonly used therapy in Chinese Medicine.

But what is it exactly?

How is it used?

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“Moxibustion”, also called “moxa” is a traditional Chinese medicine therapy which consists of burning dried mugwort near or on particular parts of the body.

 There are many forms in which moxa is used, different grades of value, and is commonly used in addition with an acupuncture treatment or can be used alone as a treatment.

 “A disease that may not be treated by acupuncture may be treated by moxibustion,” according to the Lingshu (Miraculous Pivot, or Spiritual Pivot), from the Nei Jing (The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine), the earliest book written on Chinese Medicine.

The use of Moxa in Chinese Medicine is to help warm the meridians, stimulate blood and qi flow, and to help with chronic and “yang qi deficiency” conditions. Moxibustion is thought of as being pure yang qi energy, meaning it has the ability to warm and create movement efficiently and purely.


Forms of Moxa that you might see:

  1. Pole Moxa: Dried mugwort is densely rolled into a pole which usually resembles a cigar and is lit
    until it is smoking (there are also smokeless poles if a patient is sensitive to smoke or has a
    history of respiratory issues). It is glided near specific acupuncture points and along specific meridians (about 1-2 inches from the skin) until the skin and muscles have been warmed.


  • Needle Head Moxa: This dried mugwort gets placed on the handle of the acupuncture needle that has already been inserted to the specific points of the body during the acupuncture treatment. The heat radiates down the needle and is thought of warming the specific acupuncture point and putting the yang qi energy into that acupuncture point.


  • Rice Grain Moxa: A small amount of mugwort is rolled between two wooden boards and is then separated into tiny pebble-sizes (the size of a grain of rice) and is then applied directly on specific acupuncture points. It is lit by using an incense stick, burned down about half-way to two-thirds of the moxa and then put out with a bamboo shaft, or pinched out by your acupuncturist. Usually about 3-5 rice grains cones will be used at a specific acupuncture point.


Moxibustion Uses: 

  • Warms: Because moxa is pure yang qi and is able to warm points and meridians, it is commonly used for patients who present with “cold symptoms” or whose conditions become worse in cold or wet weather. An example would be a person who has arthritis that experiences more pain/ rigidity with cold/damp weather.


  • Boost Immune System: Studies have shown that moxa helps increase white blood cell production in the body!


  • Circulation: Heat is a very effective way of creating movement/circulation in the body. Moxa warms the targeted area of treatment, therefore helps with blood circulation and qi circulation.


  • Turning Breech Babies: This treatment is usually done with acupuncture treatments and is ideally done between week 33 and 35 of your pregnancy. After this point in the pregnancy, the baby can be too large to turn in the womb.


Your acupuncturist will always be in the room with you while you are receiving moxa and should be told when you are feeling a warm sensation (this indicates that the moxa is working), but it should never feel too hot!


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