What is moxibustion and how can it help you?


In Chinese Medicine, moxibustion (commonly known as moxa) is a key treatment in a number of complaints.  Moxa is made from a herb acupuncture ealingcalled mugwort.

If I think moxa will be beneficial for you I will place the moxa either directly on the skin or I will hold it just above your skin, over specific acupuncture points or meridians. Onceit is lit it smoulders slowly, a therapeutic heat permeates the skin and affects the flow of “qi (energy) and blood in the area.

Moxibustion can be used for warming, moving and nourishing.  The moxa itself can be used on the end of a needle, sending heat down the needle into the body.  It can be lit as small pyramids on the body or it can be a stick which is placed near the body.

Direct moxibustion is more commonly used for specific areas needing treatment. I would shape the moxa into a tiny cone and place it directly on to your body before lighting. The lit moxa cone is removed as soon as you feel any sensation of heat.


Unlike acupuncture, moxibustion uses heat stimulation at various temperature levels. This heat stimulation can yield inflammatory responses and induce vascular changes.

Research has also shown that it acts as an emmenagogue. This means that it is an agent that increases blood circulation to the pelvic area and uterus and stimulates menstruation. This could explain its use in treating breech births and menstrual cramps.


  • Pain due to injury or arthritis: especially in “cold” patterns, where the pain naturally feels better with the application of heat. In fact, moxa can nourish and move Blood.  As injuries usually have some element of Blood Stagnation moxa can be a very effective healing treatment.
  • Backache: there are acupuncture points on the back which are very susceptible for letting in Damp and Cold.  Moxa can be a very effective treatment to bring warmth to the area.
  • Digestive problems
  • Gynaecological and obstetrical conditions, including breech presentation in late-term pregnancy
  • Turning a breech baby: the ideal time to start trying to turn a breech baby is 33-35 weeks and not later than 38 weeks. Make sure you always obtain an agreement from your GP or midwife before any attempt to turn the baby.  Then, I will light two moxa sticks. For this purpose, we will focus the heat on Bladder 67. This a point near the nail bed of the little toe.  Each application lasts 20 minutes.  Also, you will receive moxa sticks to continue the treatment daily at home.
  • Infertility – I often find when treating both women and men for infertility that there is low Kidney Yang energy.  Side effects of this are often a tendency to feel the cold, aching lower back and knees, urination at night, low sperm count.  This “cold” condition responds very well to moxa.  Also, I find that some women have very cold abdomens.  This could be as a result of exposure such as swimming in cold water, wearing crop tops or it could just be the way their body imbalance manifests itself.  As you can imagine a foetus needs a warm place to grow and moxa will warm the abdomen.
  • Period pains – moxa can be very effective at relieving period pains and also at helping to re-start periods or regulate them.
  • Protection against cold and flu strains

I often do both acupuncture and moxibustion in the same clinic session when appropriate to the diagnosis and treatment strategy.

Actually, the therapies increase each other’s effectiveness when you use them together.

Only a professional practitioner in a clinic setting can perform an acupuncture treatment, but you can use moxibustion easily at home.

In fact, Chinese medical practitioners often train their patients to use moxa on themselves to strengthen the effect of the clinical sessions between appointments.


  • Will moxa hurt?  When I apply direct moxa to a patient I ask them to tell me when it is getting hot and then I immediately remove it.  I also place a barrier cream on the point before applying moxa which protects the skin.
  • Can moxa help with ovulation?  Moxa may well help with ovulation if your Yang energy is deficient or if you are cold in the abdominal area.
  • Can moxa help with diarrhoea? Your acupuncturist may well us it to help with this as it can strengthen your system.
  • What does moxa smell like?  It tends to smell rather like weed.  After an hour or so it smells like cigarettes so good ventilation is ideal when using it.
  • Are there any contraindications to using moxa?  If a patient has a pattern of excess heat I would not use moxa. Although the answer to the frequently asked question “Is acupuncture safe during pregnancy?” is yes, you should not use it either on the face nor on the abdomen nor lumbosacral area of a pregnant woman.

In summary, I would not do moxibustion on its own but in conjunction with acupuncture or Tuina massage.  For certain conditions, it can make all the difference in helping the patient.


If you have not had acupuncture before, read here to see how to prepare for your first acupuncture treatment and what to expect.

About Jackie Graham Acupuncture in Ealing

I am a licensed acupuncturist working in Ealing W5 and W13.  I am passionate about helping people towards good health.  To discuss your condition and to book an appointment call me on 07733 274745

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Provider Name
Jackie Graham Acupuncture,
12 Broomfield Road,Ealing,W13 9AP,
Telephone No.07733 274745
Moxibustion (commonly known as moxa, made from a herb called mugwort) can be used for warming, moving and nourishing in a number of complaints.

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