Moxabustion Explained

Rice Grain Moxa


Acupuncture by nsawc
Acupuncture, a photo by nsawc on Flickr.

Continuing the blog entries showcasing the different “tools” acupuncturists use, this entry highlights moxabustion. Moxabustion involves using mugwort, (Artemisia vulgaris) and burning it near, and occasionally on, the body.  The least processed mugwort looks like unbleached cotton. The leaves are harvested and then ground up to make a cotton-like lint. From there the “lint” can be rolled to make sticks (similar in shape to cigars) or twisted into hard little strips about an eighth of an inch long. Moxa can be burned on the needles as you can see in this picture. The cigar-like sticks are waved above specific points and areas on the body. Occasionally moxa is burned directly on the body but only by qualified acupuncturists. For times when burning the herb is inappropriate, there is a type of oil made from the mugwort that is applied directly to the desired area.

But why would an acupuncturist want to use mugwort? Good question! Ai ye (the Chinese name for this herb pronouced aiyee yay) is used to warm and to move blood.  It is particularly effective as an emmenagogue, meaning a substance  that increases blood circulation to the pelvic area and uterus and stimulates menstruation.  So, if you think that cold and decreased blood circulation may be getting in the way of your good health ask your acupuncturist about moxa at your next visit.