Moxibustion is a traditional Chinese medicine technique that involves the burning of Mugwort, a small spongy herb, to facilitate healing. Moxibustion has been used throughout Asia for thousands of years, in fact the actual Chinese character for Acupuncture translated literally, means ‘moxibustion-acupuncture’. The purpose of Moxibustion is to strengthen the blood, stimulate the flow of qi and maintain general health.
Moxibustion generally is of two types, direct moxibustion and indirect moxibustion. In Direct Moxibustion a small cone shaped amount of moxa is placed on top of an acupuncture point and burned. This type of moxibustion is further categorised into two: Scarring and Non-Scarring. With scarring moxibustion, the moxa is placed on a point and ignited, it is allowed to stay at that point until it completely burns. This may lead to localised scarring, blisters and scarring after healing. With non-scarring moxibustion, the moxa is placed on the point and lit, but it is extinguished or removed before it burns the skin.
In the case of indirect Moxibustion, which is currently more popular than direct moxibustion because of much lower risk of burning or pain; the moxa is placed on the top of acupuncture needles that have been inserted in the body. Research has shown that it acts as an emmenagogue i.e.an agent that increases blood circulation to the pelvic area and uterus and stimulates menstruation. This could explain its use in treating breech babies and menstrual cramps.
Since fire is its central element, moxibustion is most often used to dispel cold stagnation and the conditions that arise as a result, like:
Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
Oversensitivity to cold
Joint pain and arthritis
Depression and low mood
Gradually, Western medical research has begun to confirm that moxibustion effectively treats these ailments. In one placebo-controlled clinical trial, moxibustion was shown to be highly beneficial for those with osteoarthritis.
Like acupuncture, the healing properties of moxibustion have been supported by a good amount of clinical research to date. Moxibustion may be especially useful for people who have not seen adequate results with other treatments. It is therefore recommended for those who are still suffering from a variety of health issues after trying conventional therapies. Like with many traditional Chinese treatments, consistent, sustained application is key for Moxibustion.