Moxabustion is an Asian medical technique that consists of burning moxa (common mugwort or artemesia vulgaris) close to the skin, usually over specific acupuncture points. Whereas acupuncture needles regulate qi, moxa warms the points and gives qi. It is used extensively to eliminate cold and dampness, stimulate the immune system, and provide comfort for sprains, strains and other body traumas. The beauty of moxa is that it tends to penetrate deeply into the body. Patients are often involved in their own healing by using moxa at home between their acupuncture treatments. Moxa comes in many forms, but for home use it is used in the form of a stick: either a 6 inch ‘cigar’, or a thinner ‘cigarette.’

You will need:

  • a moxa stick
  • a well venilated room, preferably with an exhaust fan
  • an ash tray to flick the ashes into

Always use caution and common sense to prevent any chance of burns.


To use: Remove the outer wrapper of the cigar (the cigarettes usually do not have one). Make sure all clothing is removed from the area being treated. Hold the moxa stick about 1 inch away from the area to be treated. The distance will vary with the freshness of the stick and the patient’s heat tolerance. Move the stick back and forth slightly over the area being treated, increasing the distance from the skin when the heat gets too intense. The normal time frame is about 10 minutes per treatment. The skin over the area treated should have a rosy color. Again, use caution to prevent blisters and burns.

If instructed to use moxa on larger areas such as the abdomen, you may want to lie on the floor in the bathroom with the exhaust fan on. Make sure that your head is propped up so that you can see what you are doing very clearly. Move the moxa stick around the designated treatment area in a circular motion, covering a lot of area at a time.

Another method is to use a pecking motion with the stick. This is good for stimulating a particular acupuncture point, as designated by your acupuncturist. Do not run the stick under water to extinguish it! Instead, to be sure it is extinguished, twist the stick into a fire proof container such as a pyrex bowl or a jar that contains rice. You may also use a small-holed candle holder that fits over the end of the stick to snuff the stick out.

Moxa Uses:

  • Lower back for low back pain, menstrual pain, bladder infections, vaginal infections, and diarrhea.
  • Over the joints for local pain and swelling, cold arthritis (no redness or swelling) , aches or pains, local injuries, and coldness.
  • Over the chest for lung congestion, bronchitis, cough, colds, flu, allergies, asthma or other lung complaints.
  • Over the upper abdomen for problems such as poor digestion, gas, bloating, nausea or vomiting. Do not use over the liver as the liver often holds too much heat all ready.
  • Over the middle abdomen for gas, bloating, poor digestion, weaknes, and low energy.
  • Over the lower abdomen for menstrual cramps, bladder infections (without the presence of blood), frequent urination, night time urinaton, weakness, leukorrhea, prostate problems, gas, bloating, diarrhea, decreased energy, body coldness, and poor circulation.
  • Over the upper back for all the conditions listed for upper chest, but without the possible irritation due to inhaling smoke.
  • Over the middle back for kidney and bladder disorders, frequent and night-time urination, low back pain, bone and disc problems, knee and joint problems, hair loss, poor circulation and low immunity, coldness, weakness, and low energy. Treating this area is an excellent way to raise energy levels and disease resistance. It benefits all the internal organs, helps to ease any chronic diseases, and is
    especially good for vegetarians who often become depleted.

Cautions: Be careful not to blister or burn yourself or others. If you create a blister, do not open it. Let the fluid absorb. Should a larger blister open, dress it with a sterile bandage. Due to its intense penetration, do not use moxa over the liver, which is often too hot already. Do not use moxa where there is inflammation or infection, over mucous membranes, on the face, or on any numb area. Also, to avoid burns, do not use moxa on a person who has limited abilities to feel heat.

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