What is moxibustion?
Moxibustion is a technique used to warm channels or points. It is performed by burning mugwort, a Chinese herb, that has been packed into a cigar or some other form that can be held in the fingers or an implement. Mugwort, or moxa as it is called when prepared for this purpose, burns steadily at a high temperature. There are a variety of ways to apply this heat to the skin. A common one is the moxa cigar, which the practitioner holds close to (but not touching) the skin, and can move up and down a channel or circle over a particular point. There are also moxa holders of various shapes and sizes, which can be used over a larger area of skin to warm a body part. Loose moxa can be packed into cones and applied directly to the skin (only by a trained professional!).
Heating a point with moxa tonifies that point without needling it. Heating a channel is usually done when the patient feels pain, coldness, weakness, or possibly has an old injury on that pathway.
Moxa sticks are sometimes given to a patient to take home and use during the week, between treatments. Always take advice from a licensed acupuncturist regarding whether moxa is appropriate for your situation, and follow instructions that they give you. I don’t currently offer moxa treatments at my practice because in the shared space I have to be considerate of others’ feelings about any lingering smoky smells, but talk with me about it if you’re curious!