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What is Moxa Therapy (Moxibustion)? How It Works, Benefits & Risks

Dr Rohit Bhaskar
Dr Rohit Bhaskar
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Moxa Therapy (Moxibustion) is a form of heat therapy in which dried plant materials called "moxa" are burned on or very near the surface of the skin. The intention is to warm and invigorate the flow of Qi in the body and dispel certain pathogenic influences.

Moxa Therapy (Moxibustion)

How is Moxa Therapy (Moxibustion) done? 

Direct moxibustion is when your practitioner places moxa cones directly onto your skin. 

  • Hold the moxa about an inch away from your skin.
  • Place the moxa onto acupuncture needles, allowing the heat to travel to your body through the needles.
  • Put the moxa on top of another therapeutic material, such as ginger, salt or a bamboo “moxa box” before placing it onto your skin.

Does Moxa Therapy (Moxibustion) hurt? 

It shouldn’t! With indirect moxibustion, the moxa never touches your skin. And even with direct moxa, you should only feel heat and warmth, but not pain; your practitioner should remove the moxa before it burns or blisters.

What is Moxa Therapy (Moxibustion) used for? 

Moxibustion is usually good for cases where the disease is brought on by cold pathogens or a certain qi/yang deficiency,”. This includes: 

It’s also commonly used for breech pregnancy, when a baby is positioned feet- or bottom-first in the uterus rather than head-first. Moxibustion has been shown to be an effective way to get a baby to turn around on its own, without medical intervention. 

Possible risks of Moxa Therapy (Moxibustion)

Direct moxibustion can cause burns, which can result in pus, scarring and skin discoloration.  

If you’re pregnant, be sure to tell your acupuncturist in advance of your treatment so they can use moxibustion with caution, if at all. And ask your acupuncturist not to use moxibustion if you have: 

Where to go for Moxa Therapy (Moxibustion)?

Moxibustion should only be performed by someone who’s trained and skilled. If you already receive acupuncture, ask your acupuncturist whether they do moxibustion, or if they can recommend a trusted practitioner who does. 

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