What is moxibustion?

Moxibustion forms part of Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is a form of heat therapy using part of the Chinese Mugwort leaf (artemesia argyi or Artemesia vulgaris) that has been dried out and then burnt in close proximity to the skin. The therapy is called moxibustion, the herb used is referred to as moxa.
The warmth is intended to help stimulate the flow of Qi/energy in the body, helping to warm and invigorate the body, it is also used to help clear certain pathogenic influences.

What exactly does the practitioner do?

There are many different styles of moxa, or ways to use the moxa.
The most common technique used in my clinic is to hold the burning stick of moxa close to the skin (not touching) either on certain points, or areas.

Some patients think that the moxa stick used looks like a large cigar- as the end will only smolder (not have an active flame).

The other most common method of moxa I use in clinic is by using a contraption called a tigerwarmer, which is a bit like a metal cage for a much smaller charcoal moxa stick, which then warms up and is stroked over the skin- this feels like heaven on sore sinuses!

There are also other forms of moxa where “cones” are made using loose moxa punk (the soft fluffy part of the leaf that is compressed to make the moxa sticks mentioned above), these are then placed directly onto the skin, this method causes a more intense heat sensation as the warmth is closer to the skin. I rarely use this form of moxa in clinic.

What can I expect to feel?

The most common sensation is a feeling of warmth at the sight that is having moxa applied to. Moxa is used as a part of the majority of acupuncture/Mayan abdominal massage sessions with the most common feedback being provided being “I wish you could do that all day, it feels amazing”.
The most common area of the body that I apply moxa to is the lower back, though depending on what you are coming in for may depend on where you are having moxa applied. Other areas that I may use moxa include the ankles, abdomen, or any site of pain you may have.

When is moxibustion used?

Honestly, moxibustion can be applied for nearly everyone!

The most common reasons I apply moxibustion is when patients are experiencing:

  • Pain due to injury or arthritis, especially in “cold” patterns where the pain naturally feels better with the application of any heat source
  • Digestive problems and irregular elimination
  • Gynecological/Menstrual and pregnancy related conditions, including breech presentation in late term pregnancy
  • Lower immune function/constantly catching colds

I often combine acupuncture and moxibustion in the same session when appropriate for symptoms that you are experiencing. These two modalities work beautifully together.

Unlike acupuncture, which is always done by a trained practitioner, moxibustion can be easily used at home. It is not uncommon for me to train patients to use moxa at home to strengthen the effect of the sessions between appointments.

What does it smell like?

When you first walk into the clinic one of the first things you will notice is the slight smokey smell- this is from my continous use of moxa!
Some patients have mentioned that the smell is similar to marijuana- though I can confirm it is definitely not, and is 100% legal to be burning!

Sometimes the smell of the moxa can linger in hair/clothes after your treatment, but nothing that won’t wash out after a shower/clothes wash.

Want to try Moxa?

If you are a new patient then you will need to book in for a new acupuncture appointment (just let me know you only want moxa, not acupuncture at the time of booking). After we have done the initial intake you will be able to choose between full acupuncture follow up (1hr), or mini moxa sessions (15mins) depending on my recommendation/your issues.