Moxa, also known as Mugwort in English and Artemesia Vulgaris in Latin, is a very special Chinese herb which is applied externally and sometimes decocted as a tea to be taken internally. With a unique spongy texture and a long history of medical use, moxa is one of the highlights of Chinese Medicine! The description here will focus on its external use.
The Chinese word “zhenjiu” — which is now translated as “acupuncture” — actually describes the combination of acupuncture with moxibustion, or moxa-burning. The two techniques used to be understood as two essential parts of one fundamental approach to treating disease and maintaining health. In modern American acupuncture clinics, moxa is used very frequently but still gets far less media attention than acupuncture.
There are a variety of methods for the practice of moxibustion depending on the style of treatment and the condition of the patient. Traditionally, small amounts of the herb are burned directly on the skin, but I use indirect moxibustion style. We use cigar or pole, platform, herb insulated moxibustion. To protect our own health, we avoid inhaling the thick smoke of regular moxibustion by mainly using a smokeless moxa pole, which is a rod of charcoal impregnated with moxa. The ignited pole is held above the point or area being treated, and does not come into contact with the skin. The patient experiences a warming sensation and reports feeling very comfortable and relaxed during the treatment.