Did anyone see the picture I posted on my instagram last week? (@hollyleeverwellness). In the post I promised a blog about moxibustion, and as promised, here it is! Moxa has a very, let’s say, unique scent. When I burn moxa in the office, I typically get a lot of questions about said scent. Not everyone loves the smell, but many of my patients (and I) do love the smell. Moxibustion is a technique that involves lighting the dried herb called “Moxa” (Mugwort or Artemisia Vulgaris) on fire and allowing the embers to burn over an area on the body. This herb is warm, acrid and bitter. These qualities mean that it can aid in promoting blood circulation, and warming areas where there is cold. There are several different forms of moxa, but I typically use only two of them in the clinic.

The first form I use is a moxa stick, pictured above. The stick is made up of the dried herb, which is then rolled in paper. With this style of moxa, I light the end of the stick on fire and blow out the flame. The end of the stick is left burning, much like incense. I hold the stick about 6 inches from the body over certain points or in an area where there is pain and/or cold. The sensation should be warm, but not burning or painful in any way. The area where I burn the moxa may become pink in color for a short time, but should not become red or inflamed. I will commonly use a moxa stick when I want to influence a larger area like the abdomen or pain that is widespread. When I use a moxa pole, I typically hold it over the area for 5-10 minutes after I have already placed the needles.

The three little guys off to the left in the image above are smaller rolls of dried moxa. With this style, I place them directly on top of the needle, light them, blow them out and allow them to burn. This technique can be more penetrative and therefore a bit of a deeper treatment than the moxa pole alone. This style also enables me to target specific acupuncture points when I am looking to address a very specific location. You might be interested in this video I made featuring this technique. Moxibustion is such an amazing modality and one that I use very often in the clinic. Questions about moxa? I’d love to hear them!