Moxa is a popular healing technique that has been used in Eastern medicine for thousands of years. It is made out of a dried herb called artemisia vulgaris, commonly known as Mugwort. It is produced as loose wool that can be shaped or compressed into a stick.
Moxa is used to supplement the needles to Warm, Move, Nourish & Build. Sometimes it is as basic as warming a channel or an element that is cold or being blocked by a cold obstruction. Other times it is used to move and dispel something that is stagnating in the system and preventing the Qi and Blood from getting to where it needs to be. This is referred to as supplementing Yang; giving your qi a little nudge in the right direction. Often it is used to build and nourish Yin. Think about how the sun lays it warm rays upon a plant to help it grow, or how chicken soup made from your grandmother reaches your core with each sip. One of my favorite reasons to use moxa, is to treat the spirit. Each acupuncture point has a function in effecting the Body Mind and Spirit. The warmth and healing properties of Moxa are able to reach the deepest levels and access our spirit in a way that needles cannot always accomplish on their own.
There are multiple ways to use moxa. The most common way is to roll it up into a small cone that is placed on an acupuncture point, and then that is lit with an incense stick. Once you feel the warmth it quickly removed. Usually, 3-5 cones are done on each point. Another way is to place this cone on top of the needle where the warmth can follow the needle into the channel. When many points require the use of moxa or I am trying to create movement along a channel, a moxa stick is used. This is stick containing the herb is lit at the end and then then it hovers above the points or channel as it creates the desired effect.
There is a ton of research done with the efficacy of moxa. Sometimes research in acupuncture will compare the effectiveness of moxa versus needles with certain condition. In a study done on rats with inflammatory bowel disease, moxa therapy was shown to reduce inflammation in the gut as well is visceral sensitivity. In a study done with humans, moxa was found to increase the anti-inflammatory response and enhance the analgesic effects of conventional medicine. There are many other studies, some include dysmenorrhea, chronic low back pain, hypertension, diabetic neuropathy and the list goes on.
Resources Bao, C. H., Wang, C. Y., Li, G. N., Yan, Y. L., Wang, D., Jin, X. M., Wu, L. Y., Liu, H. R., Wang, X. M., Shi, Z., & Wu, H. G. (2019). Effect of mild moxibustion on intestinal microbiota and NLRP6 inflammasome signaling in rats with post-inflammatory irritable bowel syndrome. World journal of gastroenterology, 25(32), 4696–4714. https://doi.org/10.3748/wjg.v25.i32.4696
Gong, Y., Yu, Z., Wang, Y., Xiong, Y., Zhou, Y., Liao, C. X., Li, Y., Luo, Y., Bai, Y., Chen, B., Tang, Y., & Wu, P. (2019). Effect of Moxibustion on HIF-1α and VEGF Levels in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Pain research & management, 2019, 4705247. https://doi.org/10.1155/2019/4705247