Moxibustion Therapy

Moxibustion therapy is a traditional Chinese therapy that still maintains an important treatment role in China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and Mongolia. The treatment is designed to stimulate specific acupuncture points throughout the body, and utilizes the mugwort herb (moxa) and combustion. Essentially, moxa is burned to warm various acupuncture points in order to improve circulation and ultimately the flow of Qi (pronounced chi).

The Origins of Moxibustion
It is generally accepted that moxibustion therapy originated in China. From China, moxibustion therapy was taken to surrounding Asian regions including Japan, Vietnam, Korea, and Mongolia. In Mongolia, winters are cold, icy, and windy and moxibustion has been used to treat a wide range of illnesses and diseases that result from exposure to cold.

Modern practitioners utilize moxibustion therapy, often in combination with acupuncture therapy, as an effective treatment for a variety of conditions from back pain, muscle stiffness, headaches and migraines to tendonitis, arthritis, digestive disorders and even anxiety. In addition, this method of therapy can be performed through a variety of techniques and depending on the type of moxibustion and where and how it is applied, this treatment can lead to a wide range of physiological effects.

Types of Moxibustion
There are 3 main types of moxibustion: Indirect moxibustion, the needle moxa technique and direct moxibustion

Indirect Moxibustion:The more popular method of moxibustion treatment, especially in the West, is indirect. Through this method there is a much lower occurrence of pain and burning as practitioners lights a cigar-shaped moxa stick and holds it within a few centimetres of the skin. Acupuncture needles are also sometimes inserted and heated through indirect moxibustion, with the intensity of heat adjusted to the patient’s tolerance.

Needle Technique: Traditionally quite popular in China. The needle moxa technique involves heating acupuncture needles directly with moxa and inserting them into acupuncture points. Unlike indirect moxibustion, the intensity of heat is much more difficult to control using the needle technique. However, the amount of heat held in the needle is generally insignificant as most of the heat experienced is reflective.

Direct Moxibustion: Through this method, a small, cone-shaped quantity of moxa is applied to various acupuncture points and burned directly on the skin. Direct moxibustion is the traditional method of treatment and is believed to be highly therapeutic. However, due to the side effects of direct moxibustion including blistering, burn marks, and scarring, this method is not generally practiced.