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What is Moxibustion?

Treatment Options (Moxibustion)


Definition: What is Moxibustion?

Moxibustion is the application of heat to acupuncture points or areas of the body using moxa to treat and prevent health conditions. Chapter 73 of Miraculous Pivot, a famous chinese medical book stated, "a disease that may not be treated by acupuncture may be treated by moxibustion "

Materials: What is Moxa Made of?

The main material is moxa or moxa wool from Artemisia Vulgaris (ai ye, or mugwort), a type of Chrysanthemum. The best variety is the one produced in Qizhou (China). Its leaves are thick with lots of wool. Moxa leaf is bitter and acrid, gives up warmth in small amounts and strong heat used in large amounts. Older moxa is better; it is easy to light, has a good smell, gives off moderate heat, reaches deep parts of the body and is inexpensive. You can use other materials such as peach stem, mulberry stem, bamboo skin, or Deng Xin Cao.

Functions of Moxa

Moxa is used for diseases that are not well-treated by acupuncture and chinese herbs or combined with the above to increase the effects of treatment. For conditions that do not respond to herbs and needles, use moxa. It applies to many diseases, deficiency, excess and heat syndrome & acute conditions. Moibustion:

  1. Warms the channels to expel cold: The heat from moxibustion reaches deep portions of the body such as muscles and tendons. It warms, moves and unblocks Qi in the channels. It treats cold damp bi syndrome, stubborn deep disease and Yang deficiency syndrome.
  2. Reinforces the middle jiao, replenishes Qi, recovers Yang and rescues the Yang from collapse. Treats cold limbs bi syndrome, minute pulse, extreme sweat, anuresis, diarrhea, prolapse of rectum & uterus.
  3. Promotes Qi and blood circulation, resolves blood stasis, and removes obstruction & pain due to above symptoms. Treats dysmenorrhea, Bi syndrome, skin abscess such as carbuncle, scrofula of cold type.
  4. Prevents disease & maintains health. St 36 promotes health, Du 14 prevents disease. Both activate the Zheng (correct) Qi and increase bodily resistance to disease.

Do not substitute moxa for needles in an acupuncture formula. Moxibustion adds new energy to the body while needles only manipulate pre-existing energy. Moxibustion is faster, easier & less expensive than chinese herbal formulas because it manipulates energy more directly. However, it cannot always replace herbal treatment.


  • Chronic conditions & Yang Qi deficiency such as chronic diarrhea, chronic dysentery, malaria, phlegm, water retention, edema, asthma cold type, impotence, enuresis, Bi syndrome, abdominal pain, stomach ache and metrorrhagia due to Qi deficiency.
  • Older people with frequent urination due to Yang deficiency, wind stroke of Tuo type, profuse sweating, dying Yang syndrome and collapse of Qi.
  • Emergency treatment- collapse of Yang.
  • Summary: Yin syndrome, cold syndrome and deficiency syndrome.

Classification of Moxa Methods

  1. Moxa cone
    A. Direct moxibustion: Non scarring, no local scar on skin. Apply vaseline on on acupoint, then cone, burn about 2/5, remove cone & replace it with another one. Do several times until skin is red & congested. It may cause a blister Scarring: This method is not use in the west. There are several scarring methods to cause local congestion & blister such as garlic, Ban jie zi, Suan Ni (garlic)
    B. Indirect moxibustion: Herbs placed between the moxa and the skin. Combines the function of the herbs, the moxa and adds the energetic property of the herb.
    Ginger moxibustion: a slice of raw fresh ginger 2-3 mm thick, diameter of moxa cone, punch holes in ginger, place ginger on acupoint, then on cone and ignite it. If a burning pain occurs, slightly lift it, move it or place additional ginger slices. Use 5-10 cones until area is red. Ginger regulates Yin, dispels cold, relieves exterior syndrome, regulates middle jiao, harmonizes stomach, dispels accumulations, regulates Qi, promotes digestion and dispels water. Indications: deficiency cold syndrome such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, stomach aches, vomiting and joint pain.
    Garlic moxibustion: same technique as for ginger slices. It has a strong stimulation on the skin and can easily cause blisters. It dispels cold dampness, expels pathogens, strengthens spleen & stomach, relieves swelling and resolves masses. For carbuncles, sores, furuncle, lung TB and abdominal masses.
    Salt moxibustion: Only used in the umbilicus; fill navel with dry salt to skin level, ignite it or place slice of ginger between salt and cone. If umbilicus is not concave, place material on top of umbilicus, then salt and cone. Used for acute gastro enteritis such as vomiting, diarrhea and dysentery. Abdominal pain around umbilicus to rescue the Yang, for Yang collapse and cold limbs. Very good for chronic diarrhea.
    Fu Zi moxibustion: slice fresh Fu Zi (aconite root) on acupoint, ground Fu Zi make a paste with rice wine, place herb under cone, same as ginger method, use 5-7 cones, skin will be warm & red. Fu Zi is acrid, warm, hot. Functions: Warm kidney, supplement Mingmen fire and various Yang deficiencies such as impotence, diarrhea before dawn, cold limbs and carbuncle Yin type.
    You can also use cones or cakes made of Hu jiao (pepper), Ding xiang, Rou gui, She xiang to treat Bi syndrome due to wind damp or numbness of local area. Mix Huang Tu with water to make a cone for carbuncles, sores on the back or eczema
  2. Moxa Stick Moxa sticks or cigars: Mild warm moxibustion, chronic diseases, about 1 to 2 cm from the skin for 3-5 minutes until skin shows reddish. It warms & dredges the channels, expels wind damp & cold, treats fainting & numbness. Put your own hand on area to control heat, use moxa between fingers especially when treating numbness. Round moxibustion, for chronic diseases, move stick in circular motion above point. Sparrow pecking, acute & child diseases, move in closer, then back up, do not touch the skin.
  3. Warm needling: Very common, combines the functions of acupuncture & moxibustion. Obtain De Qi, then use a pinch of moxa on needle handle, repeat 3-5 times, for Bi & Wei syndrome. Some people cut a cent size off a moxa stick, put a hole through & place it on needle handle.

Contraindications and Cautions

Mainly for cold, deficiency and Yin syndrome. Improper use may cause problems.

  • Be very careful in Yin deficiency with Yang rising, vomit/cough with blood, wind stroke, Bi syndrome, severe infection with high fever
  • Do not use for excess syndrome, Yin deficiency with fever or heat syndrome
  • Do not use moxa on face, genitals or close to vessels. Do not use for pregnant women on abdomen or lower back

Moxibustion:A Modern Clinical HandbookMoxibustion:A Modern Clinical Handbook
By Lorraine Wilcox

This book is written and designed to be a practical clinical handbook of moxibustion to be used by modern practitioners and students of Eastern Asian medicine in everyday clinical settings. It contains techniques and treatments as old as the Huang Di Nei Jing (Yellow Emperor's Inner Classic) and as contemporary as modern clinical trials. It has information on techniques that every practitioner will find useful.
To prepare for the writing of this book the author personally experimented with most of the techniques described in the book so that she could write clear step-by-step directions. In addition to very understandable directions, over 100 photo illustrations covering every aspect of preparation and patient care using moxa are provided where necessary. The practical, useable nature of this book will help many practitioners increase the effectiveness of their moxibustion treatments.

100 Diseases Treated by Single Point of Acupuncture Moxibustion100 Diseases Treated by Single Point of Acupuncture Moxibustion
by Cheng Decheng

Single point therapy is an independent treatment method, derived from acupuncture and moxibustion. It refers to the application of stimulation at one point or one small local area of the superficial of the body in order to treat and prevent diseases.
Single point therapy consists of many methods of acupuncture and moxibustion, such as acupuncture, moxibustion, auricular acupuncture, head acupuncture, cupping therapy, bleeding therapy, point injection and laser therapy. It also consists of medicated compress, acupressure and massage, which are exceptional category of acupuncture and moxibustion.
Single point therapy uses fewer points with less pain, and easy to master, with good and quick effect. This book introduces different therapies for the treatment of 100 common diseases by single acupoint, including the point, location, method, result, case study and discussion, with the author's personal experiences.

More Books on Moxibustion in Traditional Chinese Medicine
100 Diseases Treated by Single Point of Acupuncture Moxibustion, The Systematic Classic of Acupuncture and Moxibustion.

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