What Is Moxibustion?


Moxibustion is a form of traditional Chinese medicine. It is an alternative type of therapy that involves burning a moxa cone or stick, usually made from dried leaves of a mugwort plant, on or near the body’s acupuncture points. Moxibustion is used for various health conditions.

Moxibustion is thought to promote the flow of Qi, or life energy, throughout the body. It is also thought to help balance the positive and negative qualities in the body known as yin and yang. In some cases, it is done in conjunction with acupuncture.

Types of moxibustion

There are two types of moxibustion: direct and indirect. During direct moxibustion, a moxa cone is placed directly on the skin. The practitioner ignites the moxa cone and lets it burn slowly. During indirect moxibustion, the practitioner ignites a moxa stick and holds the lit end about an inch away from the skin for several minutes. Indirect moxibustion is a more common practice than direct moxibustion.

Health concerns that may improve from moxibustion

Moxibustion is used as an alternative treatment to improve symptoms of various health conditions. It can be used to relieve pain, especially arthritic or menstrual pain, improve gastrointestinal issues, prevent colds and flu, and reduce fatigue. Moxibustion can also be used as an alternative method to help turn a baby who is breech (bottom-down) in the womb.

Risks and side effects of moxibustion

Moxibustion is generally safe when performed by an experienced practitioner or acupuncturist. The biggest risk is an accidental burn to the skin. Side effects such as sore throat, coughing, nausea or vomiting can occur. Pregnant women are more likely to experience serious side effects, including fetal distress or premature birth; therefore, moxibustion should only be performed under direction from a medical professional.