Could You Benefit from Moxibustion?

Moxibustion: you may be thinking of combustion, carbon monoxide or poison. With a word like that, it’s easy to quickly associate harmful substances, but moxibustion is far from harmful. It has been used for thousands of years in Chinese medicine to prevent and cure disease.

What is Moxibustion?

You’re most likely to find the practice of moxibustion at your local acupuncturist’s office. Moxibustion is often performed at the same time as or right after an acupuncture procedure. It consists of burning a cigar-like wand of dried herbs—called a moxa stick—over acupuncture points.

Types of Moxibustion

There’s direct moxibustion, which means the burning wand is applied directly to the skin. It can cause pain and scarring, so this method has lost favor over the years.

Luckily, there’s a second technique: indirect moxibustion. The acupuncturist applies the burning wand over the needle or the acupuncture point. Sometimes, they’ll use insulating materials, such as garlic, ginger or salt.

How Moxibustion Therapy Works

Moxibustion is said to work by warming and nourishing of the qi (chi). It releases and moves stagnant energy along certain meridians. In doing so, it nourishes and activates the blood, reduces phlegm and draws out poisons.

The herbs used are usually mugwort or wormwood, which have the tendency to smell like marijuana when burned. Offices that provide this service will have signs informing visitors of this distinct smell.

The Benefits of Moxibustion

There are several benefits of moxibustion, although the science to back these claims is limited. Research has been conducted with good results, but reviews of the research report that the studies are of low or poor quality. In other words, more research is needed to fully confirm these benefits.

Here are the most common benefits of moxibustion:

  1. boost immunity to cold and flu
  2. reduce pain such as arthritis or other injuries
  3. improve digestion and elimination
  4. prevent breech births

These are the most common benefits, but moxibustion has been indicated in Chinese medicine for all kinds of problems like TMJ, urinary retention, herpes zoster, dysmenorrhea, weakness, fatigue and even age-related problems.

Could Moxibustion Benefit You?

If you see an acupuncturist regularly, then it wouldn’t hurt to have a conversation with him or her about the practice of moxibustion. Knowing that the science is limited, it’s ultimately between you, your doctor and your acupuncturist to decide whether or not moxibustion therapy would be of benefit for you or, at least, worth trying.

Related at Care2

Image via Thinkstock


CJ D1 months ago

is there any scientific basis for the benefits of the indirect method?

Chrissie R
Chrissie R1 months ago

No thanks, but thanks for posting.

Marija M
Marija Mohoric1 months ago


Danuta W
Danuta Watola1 months ago

thank you for posting

Janet B
Janet B1 months ago


HEIKKI R1 months ago

thank you

Lesa D
Lesa D1 months ago

thank you Paula...

Frances G
Frances G1 months ago

thanks for sharing

Christine D
Christine D1 months ago

I'm a huge fan of Chinese medicine but a little leery about this one. I prefer to nourish my qi with exercises like qigong or tai chi, tapping and acupressure. I have had acupuncture alone before with great success.

Wesley Struebing
Wesley Struebing1 months ago