Moxibustion is a traditional Chinese medicine technique that involves the burning of the herb Ai Ye (mugwort), a small, spongy herb, to facilitate healing. Moxibustion has been used throughout Asia for thousands of years. The purpose of moxibustion, as with most forms of traditional Chinese medicine, is to strengthen the blood, stimulate the flow of qi, and maintain general health.
Moxibustion can be applied in many different ways and the expected physiological reactions from moxibustion can greatly vary depending on the type and technique used.
There are two types of moxibustion: direct and indirect. In direct moxibustion, a small, cone-shaped amount of Moxibustion is placed on top of an acupuncture point and burned. With indirect 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, blistering or scarring. A medium can be placed between the skin and Moxa, such as salt, ginger or garlic to change the aspects of the treatment. With direct moxibustion, the Moxa is placed on a point, ignited with an incense stick, and allowed to remain onto the point until it burns out completely to produce a short burst of heat onto the skin.
By carefully considering the type of moxibustion, and where and how to apply it, moxibustion can be used safely and effectively for almost all patients
It can also be pushed along the meridian in a lion or tiger warmer (a device designed to hold the moxa in place) or placed on the end of an acupuncture needle to enhance the stimulation of an acupuncture point. There are also a wide variety of techniques to apply heat to the skin, where the heat source is not necessarily burning moxa.