Moxibustion therapy - benefits and safety
On this page
- How does it work?
- What are the health benefits?
- Does it hurt?
- Is it safe?
- Are there any side effects?
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding
- Common questions
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.
Often acupuncture and moxibustion will be used together during a treatement.
Traditionally, moxibustion is the burning of a specific herb called ai ye (mugwort). The moxa is placed 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.
3. 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.
4. How moxibustion works
Moxibustion works by directing heat into a specific part of the body that maybe suffering from cold or is stagnated.
5. 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.
6. Is it painful?
No, moxibustion is not painful. You will just feel a pleasant sensation of warmth, which doesn't hurt.
Moxibustion is safe when used properly. Not paying attention to the moxa stick, not holding it with two hands or looking away can cause the end of the moxa stick to touch the body, which cause burn the skin.
8. 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.
9. Use in pregnancy
It is used a lot to correct a breech presentation before labour.