Home > Health Articles > Five Questions: Moxa and Moxibustion

by Pamela Israel
Peaceful Spirit Massage & Wellness Centers

If you come to Peaceful Spirit’s Country Club Road location often, you may have smelled moxa. Love it or hate it, moxa is used by many acupuncturists to treat a variety of different illnesses. In this blog, we’ll give you an overview of moxa and moxibustion, including reasons for use, how it’s used, and how you can expect to feel after its use.

What are moxa and moxibustion?

Moxa is an herbal concoction that is usually made from Chinese mugwort (Artemesia vlugaris). Moxibustion is a type of heat therapy where small amounts of moxa are burned close to the patient’s skin. Acupuncturists use moxibustion to induce the flow of Qi – the life force.

What are the benefits of moxa/moxibustion and what is it used to treat?

Moxibustion is commonly used in conjunction with acupuncture and many acupuncturists feel that the two complement each other well. Benefits of using moxa and moxibustion include promoting circulation of blood and Qi, stimulating acupuncture points (especially those where needles are not able to be used), and promoting warmth throughout the body. Moxa and moxibustion have been used for centuries to prevent disease, strengthen the organs and immune system, and aid in circulation. Moxa has been successfully used to treat pain, digestive issues, and even turning breech babies during childbirth.

How is Moxa used?

The acupuncturist may use moxa with or without burning it, and moxa comes in several different forms. The acupuncturist will determine the best form to use for each individual case. Commonly, moxa is molded into a thick stick, which the acupuncturist burns. They will then move the stick of moxa close to the patient, letting the smoke wash over the patient. Moxa can also be placed directly onto acupuncture points on the skin and burned (the moxa is removed before it has a chance to burn the skin). Another common use is to attach small balls of moxa to each acupuncture needle. Finally, moxa can be made into a liquid that can be warmed and used if burning is not allowed.

What can I expect to feel?

Many patients report feeling a sudden warmth that flows away from the application site. Patients also report feelings of deep relaxation and comfort while being treated with moxa.

What about the smell?

The main downside of moxa is the strong, spicy odor it gives off when burned. Many people liken the smell to marijuana, and some find it unpleasant to be around. However, if you can learn to tolerate or appreciate the smell, this herb has many benefits.