Moxibustion is a technique used in traditional Chinese medicine in which a stick or cone of burning mugwort , Artemesia vulgaris, is placed over an inflamed or affected area on the body. The cone is placed on an acupuncture point and burned. The cones is removed before burning the skin. The purpose is to stimulate and strengthen the blood and the life energy, or qi, of the body.

Moxibustion is used for people who have a cold or stagnant condition. The moxa stick is burned to warm up the blood and qi that are not circulating well. It is particularly known for its ability to turn breech presentation babies into a normal head-down position that is considered safer during childbirth. In a 1998 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 75% of the pregnant women in the study had breech fetuses that turned in the normal position. Moxibustion significantly increases fetal movements in pregnant women.

Moxibustion is also used to treat inflammations. For example, if treating a patient with tendinitis, the moxa stick is burned over the elbow area. It is also highly regarded for menstrual cramps, where the stick is waved over the abdominal area. Often, the cramps disappear immediately. Moxibustion is specifically used for patients with a cold or stagnant constitution. Therefore, if any patient has too much heat, they should not undergo moxibustion treatment.

Since moxa can smoke up the room and smells similar to marijuana I use smokeless moxa in my office. Because of the risk of burning the skin, I don’t use direct moxa right on the skin, but a Japanese moxa where there is a piece of cardboard with a hole in it that is stuck to the skin with the burning moxa on top. The heat goes through the hole to heat up the acupuncture point with no danger of burning the skin.

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