Moxibustion is a practice that comes from Eastern medicine. During a moxibustion treatment, moxa is applied to or near the patient’s skin. It may be burned on the skin, near the skin or put on the skin using acupuncture needles. Moxibustion may be used on its own, or it can be combined with acupuncture.
Moxa is a dried substance made from mugwort, which is an aromatic plant. Manufacturers of moxa dry the mugwort and then grind it into a powder. Depending on how they’re applying the moxa to a patient’s skin, moxibustion providers will either use it as a powder or roll it into a cigar-like shape.
In most cases, moxibustion treatments don’t hurt at all. There are two ways moxa may be applied without causing any pain or harm to the skin. Moxa can be indirectly applied to the skin via acupuncture needles. In this technique, the burning moxa never actually touches the skin. The needle will become warm, but the provider keeps it from getting uncomfortably hot. Alternatively, moxa can be set directly on the skin and burned. When it’s applied in this way, however, the provider will usually extinguish the moxa before the burning portion actually reaches the skin. The skin will become pleasantly warm, but it won’t be burned.
Moxibustion has a wide array of uses. It can help treat colds and some skin conditions, and it sometimes helps turn breech babies into a more suitable child-birthing position.
Because moxibustion is an Eastern medical practice, people who are interested in moxibustion should look for an Eastern provider who specializes in the treatment. Most providers who offer moxibustion are licensed acupuncturists and also offer acupuncture treatments. Patients who want moxibustion treatments on an ongoing basis may also want to find a provider who works at a conveniently located practice or clinic.