What to Expect From Moxibustion Treatment


What is moxibustion?

Moxibustion is a traditional Chinese medicine practice in which moxa (a cone or stick made from the dried leaves of a mugwort plant) is burned on or near the skin. The moxa is typically burned along the body’s meridians (the pathways through which Qi, or life energy, flows). Moxibustion is thought to help heal the body by promoting the flow of Qi.

What does a moxibustion session involve?

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.

When moxa is burned, the smoke has an odor that is often similar to cannabis. The burning moxa warms the skin, but the sensation should be pleasant, not painful. The skin may turn slightly red.

Potential benefits

Although more research is needed on the effectiveness of moxibustion treatment, proponents of the practice claim it reduces the symptoms of digestive conditions, such as ulcerative colitis. Historically, it has been used to help treat menstrual pain. It may also help ease pain from certain types of arthritis, reduce fatigue, and improve system function.

Moxibustion should always be performed by an experienced traditional Chinese medicine practitioner or acupuncturist.