Moxibustion is a traditional Chinese medicine technique involving the burning of mugwort which is a small, spongy herb. The purpose of moxibustion is to strengthen the blood, stimulate the flow of qi, and maintain general health.
There are 2 types of moxibustion - direct and indirect. In direct moxibustion, a small cone-shaped amount of moxa is placed on top of an acupuncture point and burned. Indirect moxibustion is the more popular form of care because there is a much lower risk of pain or burning. In indirect moxibustion, the practitioner lights one end of a moxa stick and holds it close to the area being treated for several minutes until the area turns red. Another form of indirect moxibustion uses both acupuncture needles and moxa. After the desired effect is achieved, the moxa is extinguished and the needles are removed.
Moxibustion is used on people who have a cold or stagnant condition. The burning of moxa is believed to expel cold and warm the meridians which in turn leads to a smoother flow of blood and qi. In women, it may reduce the symptoms of menstrual cramps when used in conjunction with traditional acupuncture.