The Lowdown On Moxibustion

You might be looking at that title thinking ‘what on earth are they talking about?’ Don’t worry – you’re not alone! But moxibustion is a fantastic complimentary treatment for all sorts of issues, and is one we use all the time alongside acupuncture therapies, as the two go hand in hand. Want to know what all the fuss is about?

What Is Moxibustion?

Moxibustion is a specific type of heat therapy that involves burning a dried herb called ‘Moxa’ on or near the surface of the skin. Not only does this feel very nice, but it also warms and invigorates the flow of Qi in the body, helping dispel certain pathogenic influences. Moxa itself is usually made from a dried, leafy material known as Chinese Mugwort, but it can also be made of other herbs or leaves.

What Does It Look Like?

Moxa comes in three main forms:

  • A cotton wool-like ‘punk’, which is squeezed into small cone shapes,
  • A stick of compressed Moxa that looks like a large cigar,
  • A short roll, which can be used to burn on an acupuncture needle

As we tend to pair Moxibustion treatments with acupuncture, we mainly use Moxa in the third form, although we will also use it in the first two as well.

What’s It Used For?

The main function of Moxa is the balancing of energies, but when used with acupuncture it can also be used to nourish and warm. For example, we might choose to use Moxa for a client who is experiencing fatigue and cold, stiff and painful joints, arthritis, digestive problems, recovering from illness or after giving birth.

How Is It Used?

The way moxibustion is done will depend on the type of moxa being used.

Cones: These tiny cones of Moxa are placed onto the acupuncture points on the skin and secured with a dab of water so they don’t slip off or move. We then light a thin taper to light the cone so that it smoulders down almost to the skin. We will then remove the cone and pop it into a dish of water, before repeating this with a new cone. Several cones will be used on each acupuncture point to get the full effect. Once we are happy, we’ll clean your skin with an alcohol swab and apply the acupuncture needles.

Sticks: Moxa sticks are lit so that they smoulder, and are then held over the acupuncture points, or moved up and down to warm an affected channel. They can also be held close to the acupuncture needle itself, which will ensure the heat penetrates deeper into the skin.

Moxa Rolls on Needles: This is one of the more fun applications, and gives the maximum impact of the Moxa and the acupuncture. Here, the moxa roll is carefully pushed over the handle of an inserted acupuncture needle and set smouldering. The needle and the smouldering Moxa are removed as one unit (using forceps) and extinguish in water. Don’t worry – the skin at the base of the needle are protected by a large circular disc.

What Will I Feel?

When using an moxibustion treatment, a lot of clients will say they feel a sudden flooding of warmth that quickly radiates along a specific pathway in their body (usually corresponding with the jing luo channel that’s being treated) and away from the site where the Moxa is being used. This is quickly followed by a calmness and comfort as the flow of Qi is released.

The idea of moxibustion is to encourage warmth and heat to spread through your body – never to burn you. There are strict procedures in place to make sure that doesn’t happen, so while you may feel the heat, you won’t be leaving with an injury! If you would like to know more about moxibustion as part of acupuncture, just get in touch with us today.