What Does Moxa Do In Acupuncture

How Does Moxibustion Enhance Acupuncture Treatments?

Have you ever noticed an unfamiliar smoky odor when you arrive for an acupuncture treatment? Your acupuncturist may be burning an herb called moxa that improves the effectiveness of your treatments.

What Is Moxa?

Moxa is made of mugwort, a herb that smells a little like marijuana when it's burned. (Although the smell is similar, mugwort doesn't cause intoxication.) Your acupuncturist uses mugwort during a therapy called moxibustion.

Acupuncture treatment eliminates Qi blockages in your body. Blockages prevent Qi, a lifeforce that's essential for good mental and physical health, from flowing freely through pathways called meridians. When Qi becomes blocked, you may become ill, develop aches and pains, feel stressed or experience a worsening of chronic conditions.

The smoke produced during moxibustion therapy warms your body, increasing the flow of blood, Qi, and lymph fluid. The herb also promotes healing, reduces cold and damp throughout the body, and may boost immune system functioning. During moxibustion treatment, your acupuncturist passes a moxa stick or warmer very close to your body but never touches your skin.

What Are the Benefits of Moxibustion?

Moxibustion offers many benefits for your health, including:

  • Quicker Healing Time. Healing time can be reduced after an injury due to better Qi and blood flow to the injured area.
  • Less Pain. Moxibustion not only increases blood and Qi flow but also improves lymph circulation. Lymph fluid brings nutrients to your cells and tissues and removes wastes and toxins. If it builds up, you're more likely to experience pain. Moxibustion can be particularly helpful if you have arthritis pain, as it eliminates cold and damp from your body, decreasing symptoms. The heated moxa may also trigger the production of endorphins, your body's natural pain killers.
  • Improved Sleep. Almost 78 percent of participants in a Chinese study reported improvements in insomnia after just two weeks of moxibustion and heat lamp therapy.
  • Better Digestion. Do you suffer from abdominal cramps, diarrhea, constipation or other digestive issues? Moxibustion can help control pain and improve the way your digestive system works.
  • Enhanced Immune System Function. Combining acupuncture and moxibustion treatment may decrease your chances of catching upper respiratory infections, colds, the flu, and other infections.
  • Relief for Tension Headaches and Migraines. In a 2012 article in Rinsho Shinkeigaku, Japanese acupuncturists noted that slight to moderate headaches occurred less often after patients completed two months of acupuncture and moxibustion treatment. The treatment increased blood flow in the brain and decreased tenderness in the neck, shoulder, and jaw muscles.
  • Stress Reduction. Moxibustion enhances the stress-relieving effects of acupuncture treatment.
  • More Energy. Treatment may also reduce fatigue and give you more stamina.
  • Treatment for Women's Health Issues. Acupuncture and moxibustion can help decrease hot flash frequency and severity, reduce menstrual cramps, and even improve fertility.
  • Fewer Breech Births. Moxibustion was helpful in turning breech babies to a headfirst position in several clinical trials reviewed by Cochrane. Although more research is needed, moxibustion may offer a simple way to change the position of breech babies.

Would you like to find out if moxibustion could help you? Contact us to schedule an appointment.


PubMed: Rinsho Shinkeigaku: The Practical Use of Acupuncture in Moxibustion Treatment Cooperated with Neurological Practice, 2012


Daoist Traditions College of Medical Arts: The Healing Power of Moxa, 10/5/16


University of Minnesota: Moxibustion


Cochrane: Cephalic Version by Moxibustion for Breech Presentation, 5/16/12


Health CMI: Acupuncture with Moxa Found Effective for Insomnia, 3/22/17



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