What is moxibustion, and what are the benefits?

What is moxibustion, and what are the benefits?


By Melissa Lo L.Ac., M.S.O.M.

Licensed Acupuncturist

Owner of Origin Natural Care


Moxibustion is a Traditional Chinese Medicine therapy. Moxa is made of dried mugwort (Artemisia Argyi) and can be used for a numerous amount of disorders. Practitioners use moxa to help with with warming regions of the body. The philosophy behind moxibustion is that it can be used to move the Qi and the Blood at specific acupuncture points along the meridian pathways.

Within my practice, I have found that using moxibustion is an essential part of treatment. Below is list of just a few conditions that moxa can be used to help treat:

* Pain in the body (chronic and acute)

* Joint stiffness (arthritic conditions)

* Gynecology disorders (amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea)

* Digestive issues (bloating, gas, bowel conditions)

* Fertility (assisting in pregnancy, turning a breeched baby)

* Immune conditions (helping with clearing colds)

There are two different types of moxibustion styles. Most commonly used are direct and indirect moxa. Though direct moxa can be very effective in warming up the body, it is a style we are more careful with as there is a chance that the skin can get burned or scarred. Indirect moxa is more commonly used as it can reduce any injuries. Indirect is when the moxa in the cigar-like form is held above the acupuncture needle, or region of the body we are trying to warm.

Case Study #1

Patient aged 24 years, came in with menses cramping pain. She had been on birth control for the last 6 months with no change in her cycle. She would have severe pain a day before her bleed, which would last until the second day of her cycle. Her periods would last for about 6 days, and would consist of breast tenderness, lower abdominal cramp, loose stools, and dark flow with clots. Treatment included acupuncture, herbal supplementation, and moxibustion above the uterus. Patient noticed within 15 minutes of moxa that the severe cramps went down. We then started a treatment plan to help her adjust her cycle to help reduce her cycle irregularity. Moxa was a continuous addition to her treatment.

Case Study #2

Patient aged 22 years old, had severe digestive irregularity. She would have constant bloating and loose stools. The bloating was always after she ate. Patient at the time did not take notice of what types of food, or any time that the bloating would occur. Treatment included nutritional detoxification, acupuncture with moxa, herbal supplementation. Patient did have a sensitivity to certain foods, and once removed from her diet, the bloating reduced. Her body constitution was still weak, and integrating in moxa with acupuncture helped with healing her digestive tract.

Case Study #3

Patient aged 75 years, with chronic arthritis. I noticed that the patient had swelling in the joints, with limited movement since it was very stiff. Patient started a protocol of acupuncture treatment with moxa above the large joints where the swelling occurred. Patient also added in some nutritional supplement to help with joint support. Stiffness went down as we continued with her treatment and protocol. She now can bend her fingers without intense pain, and can do daily activities without too much stiffness.

These examples of moxa cases are just some of the basic treatment protocols that moxibustion can help assist with. The uses are numerous and the effect, quick and long lasting. I have found that moxa is one of the most beneficial treatments to integrate into suitable conditions. It is a natural therapy that has many uses that most people do not know of.