Moxibustion involves the heating of acupuncture points with smoldering mugwort herb (known as moxa). Moxibustion stimulates circulation, counteracts cold and dampness in the body, and promotes the smooth flow of blood and qi. This safe, non-invasive technique may be used alone, but it is generally used in conjunction with acupuncture treatment.
According to oriental medicine, energy and blood flow along the meridians of the body, but it is often jammed and blocked due to an accident, injury, fatigue or unhealthy life habits. Stimulation by heat to proper moxibustion points dissolves the blockage, restores energy and improves blood flow.
In direct moxibustion, a small amount of moxa is shaped into a cone or rice grain shape and placed on top of an acupuncture point and burned. In modern moxibustion, the moxa is placed on the point and lit, but is extinguished or removed before it burns the skin. The patient will experience a pleasant heating sensation that penetrates deep into the skin, but should not experience any pain.
In indirect moxibustion, a moxa stick, roughly the shape and size of a cigar, is burned near the acupuncture meridians or over specific areas of pain or injury. Another form of indirect moxibustion is performed by wrapping the handle of an acupuncture needle with moxa and burning it, which pushes the heat down into the point directly.
In either case, the purpose of moxibustion is to use the heat to stimulate the flow of Qi and blood to improve circulation, enhance acupuncture treatments, and create other healing effects in the body.