Moxibustion Heat Therapy

By Jaymi Costanzo



Moxabustion therapy and Acupuncture, also referred to as “Moxa,”  are often used together in treatment. Moxa is made from the plant Artemisia Vulgaris or Mugwort, a species of chrysanthemum. It is quite powerful and useful for many different kinds of treatments and patterns.  When considering this therapy there are several different forms to choose from. You can either choose to apply cones (indirect and direct forms), or employ it with acupuncture needles, and/or use it as a pole. Below describes the way each form is utilized.

Direct Therapy

Rice Grain, a direct therapy, warms the body best! First, the practitioner places Shinko cream on the skin, This prevents the skin from burning. Second, they light the rice grain with an ignited stick of non-scented incense. Next, on the same acu-point, they repeat the second step. Continuing this process, they work until the patient feels a sense of warmth. In this treatment, there is risk for blistering. In fact, blistering can be considered scaring moxa. It is a real modality of healing in Chinese Medicine though not often employed.

Indirect Therapy

Moxabustion Cones are used over the umbilicus. In this method, ginger or salt is first put in the umbilicus as a base. After, the practitioner sets the cone on the salt pile or on the piece of ginger. Next they light it. The cone is allowed to burn until it extiguishes on its own.  The process can be repeated until the patient feels a sense of heat. This method is superb for warming the abdomen. It assits with digestive discomfort such as cramping and spasming.

Stick-on is great for quick application. Little moxa cones come pre-attached to a sticky platform. Creating an ease for individuals to apply to themselves, they can be used at home. To begin, you must light the cone before setting it on the skin to burn. As a caution, these generally create an ant bite sensation for 5-10 seconds at the end of each burn.


Pole moxabustion is compressed and resembles a charcoal stick. It is used by hovering over the skin until heat is felt. However, practitioners often do not employ this style do to its overwhelming smell.

Warm Needle Moxibustion is a technique that combines with acupuncture. First, the acupuncturist inserts a needle into the desired acu-point. Then, a fluffy Moxa cone is placed over the handle of the needle. Next, the practitioner lights the bottom of the ball in several places with incense to begin the burning. The cone remains on the needle until it naturally extinguishes. If desired, the practitioner may continue until the warmth generated from the the Moxa travels down the needle and sinks deep into the body and warms the patient. This method is great for heating up the interior of the body.

Using moxa is essentially like putting sunshine back into the body. For starters, it is very warming and moving. In addition,  it is particularly great bringing heat back into cold extremities. As well, it can alleviate occasional abdominal discomfort, and/or dysfuction in the pelvic cavity.  Do note, Moxa isnt indicated for everyone and is used on a case by case basis. Ask your practitioner for more details.