Moxa and Moxabustion

If you’ve never had an acupuncture treatment with moxa, I’m sure you’ve wondered what that strange smell is when enter my treatment room! That is the smell of Moxa.

What is Moxabustion?

Moxabustion is the burning of a dried herb called moxa, a soft woolly substance prepared from Mugwort leaves (Artemisia vulgaris). Moxa has been used alongside acupuncture for over 3 thousand years, at least as long as we have evidence of the practice of acupuncture.

What does it do?
Moxa is used to strengthen the immune system, to warm the body and to bring more qi and blood flow to an area. Moxa is often cited for its effectiveness in turning breach babies.

In TCM, moxa is often used on people who have a cold or stagnant condition. The burning of moxa is believed to expel cold and warm the meridians, which leads to smoother flow of blood and qi. Moxa is especially useful for the treatment of pain.

In Western medicine, moxibustion has successfully been used to turn breech babies into a normal head-down position prior to childbirth. Other studies have shown that moxibustion increases the movement of the fetus in pregnant women, and may reduce the symptoms of menstrual cramps when used in conjunction with traditional acupuncture.

What happens during a treatment?

There are many methods in the use of moxa, but this is how I generally use it.

I usually place the moxa either directly on the skin or on the acupuncture needle, or hold it just above the skin over specific acupuncture points or meridians. I light the herb with a joss stick and as it smoulders slowly, a therapeutic heat permeates the skin and affects the flow of ‘qi’ (energy) and blood in the area being treated.

I use direct moxibustion most commonly for specific areas needing treatment. I shape the moxa into a tiny cone and place it directly on to the body before lighting. The lit moxa cone is removed as soon as the patient feels any sensation of heat.

It is also used to great effect on the actual head of the acupuncture needle. In this case I place a small roll of moxa on the head of an acupuncture needle. It burns for about 20-30 seconds until it extinguishes.

What does it feel like?

Well, most importantly, it doesn’t hurt. You often feel a warm, relaxing sensation. If you are concerned about the smoke that emanates from the moxa, I can also use a smokeless variety.

If you would like to know more about Moxa, or anything about Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine and how it can help you, please feel free to contact me.


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