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Moxibustion (indirect moxibustion) is the application of heat-therapy into a specific acupuncture point on the body. It originates from traditional Chinese medicine and is commonly used in traditional acupuncture treatment.

Traditionally, moxibustion is the burning of a specific herb called ai ye (mugwort). The moxa is paced 1 inch above an acupuncture point to pour heat into it. The heat is a form of therapy that aids the flow of qi in the body, thereby restoring good health. It is used a lot to treat a breech birth.

Types of moxibustion

There are two types of moxibustion: the traditional herb Ai Ye that is moulded into a small cone and lit and the modern smokeless moxa sticks.

The burning of mugwort generates a lot of smoke, which affect people with sensitive respiratory system and won't set off smoke alarms. Instead, I use a smokeless moxa that does the same job without the side effects. I don't practise scarring moxibustion, which scars the skin due to excessive heat.

Because the moxa stick has to be held by a person, only one acupuncture point can be stimulated with heat at one time, unless you have an army of people all holding moxa stick. For this reason, I use infrared heat lamps instead to pour heat into a group of acupuncture points in one go.

Health benefits

Today, moxibustion is commonly used in the treatment of breech presentations, to turn breech babies. It can also help with the side effects of chemotherapy. Traditionally, it is used to treat cold as moxibustion is a form of heat therapy.

Clinical trials have shown that it can be of benefit during labour and reduce the side effects of chemotherapy.

Side effects

Moxibustion doesn't have any side effects, is not painful, just a little warm so is quite comfortable. However, if the moxa stick is left in one place for too long, it can cause burning to the skin and scarring. Burning moxa, the traditional smoky type could set of a smoke alarm.