Moxa is an integral part of Chinese Medicine. The Chinese characters for acupuncture, 针灸 (zhēn jiǔ), literally translate to “needles and moxa.” One comes with the other.
But what is moxa?
Moxa is short for “moxibustion,” and it is the burning of an herb (artemisia vulgaris, mugwort) close to the skin. It comes in many forms: cigar style sticks, incense style sticks, and loose fluffy raw herb are some of the most popular.
Pictured above is high quality golden loose moxa. It is fluffy and soft, and it is the only type used for a Japanese style called direct moxa. In direct moxa, the selected point is given a dab of okyu ointment, a special purple herbal ointment to protect the skin. A tiny piece of rolled gold moxa is placed atop the ointment. As seen in the photo, these tiny pieces are smaller than a grain of rice. The tiny bit of moxa is lit using a very thin stick of incense. Another bit is placed and lit, and that is repeated the appropriate number of times for the specific acupuncture point being treated.
Why use moxa?
Moxa, like needles, is used in order to effect change. Often the change is pain relief, but moxa can also be used to strengthen the immune system, warm and balance the internal organs, resolve old conditions, reduce inflammation, and heal acute sprains.
Moxa and acupuncture needles each stimulate different areas of the brain. As a result, using moxa with acupuncture can be an efficient way to resolve issues. Certain points were traditionally deemed “moxa points” and using moxa on these points is especially effective.