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Moxibustion (Moxa) is a form of heat therapy in which mugwort (a commonly used herb) is burned on (direct moxibustion) or near the skin (indirect moxibustion). The purpose of moxibustion is to heat acupuncture points in order to stimulate the flow of qi and strengthen the blood. To shun moxibustion means being able to use only half of the advantages of Traditional Chinese Medicine, renouncing an effective therapy (what acupuncture does not cure can be cared for by the application of moxa), losing a precious means for bringing energy to an organism suffering from emptiness of yang...

There are two types of direct moxibustion: scarring and non-scarring. In the procedure of scarring moxibustion, the moxa is placed on an acupuncture point, burned and remains on the skin until it burns out completely. In the procedure of non-scarring moxibustion, the moxa is placed on an acupuncture point, burned, but extinguished or removed before it burns the skin.

 

There are several forms of indirect moxibustion. One method is to light one end of a moxa stick and hold it close to the acupuncture point for a few minutes until the area turns red. Another method uses both acupuncture needles and moxa. A needle is inserted into an acupuncture point and retained. The tip of the needle is then wrapped in moxa and burned, generating heat to the acupuncture point and its surrounding area. The moxa is then extinguished and the needle is removed.

Is it safe? Does it hurt?

The risks of heat therapy include burns, blisters, scarring and allergies. It is important for practitioners to be aware of the patients’ tolerance to heat. In the case of direct moxibustion, patients should experience a pleasant heating sensation deep into the skin. However, if the patient experiences strong pain, blistering and scarring, it may indicate that the moxa is left in place for too long. Therefore, indirect moxibustion is growing in popularity because there is a much lower risk of pain or burning.