Moxibustion, also known as mugwort, or Artemesia vulgaris, is an herb that has been used for more than 2,500 years in Chinese medicine. This herb has been used therapeutically to treat a wide range of diseases, and is commonly used for conditions involving fatigue and weakness.
There are two traditional ways of applying moxibustion: direct and indirect. In direct application, a small cone-shaped amount of mugwort is applied topically onto an acupuncture point, and then burned. Most commonly, the mugwort is removed from the skin before the patient is burned, but some styles of direct moxibustion involve leaving it on until it burns through.
For indirect application, a moxa stick is lit and held an inch or two away from the skin for several minutes, until the surrounding area is warmed and red. Another way that indirect moxibustion can be performed is by applying a small amount of mugwort to the end of an acupuncture needle, and letting it warm the area without any contact.
Each practitioner has their preference of how they apply moxibustion and rationale as to why they would use different styles for different conditions. All forms of moxibustion are used to warm the channels and specific acupuncture points, as well as increase blood flow and circulation to these specific areas.
In Chinese medicine, it is believed that the heat from moxibustion helps stimulate acupuncture points and allows qi (energy) to move freely throughout the body. This increased circulation is what facilitates the healing process for various ailments.
Some conditions that it has been shown to treat include cold and flu prevention, digestive issues, menstrual cramps and dysfunction, arthritis, soft tissue injury, poor circulation, chronic pain, fatigue and autoimmune diseases. Research has shown that moxibustion has a similar effect on the body as applying infrared light, and has been used to enhance immunity and anti-aging.
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Raypole, C., & Wilson, D. R. (n.d.). What is Moxibustion? Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/moxibustion
Moxibustion. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.acupuncturetoday.com/abc/moxibustion.php