is an oriental medicine
therapy utilizing moxa
, or mugwort herb
. It plays an important role in the traditional medical
systems of China
, and Mongolia
. Suppliers usually age the mugwort and grind it up to a fluff; practitioners burn the fluff or process it further into a stick that resembles a (non-smokable) cigar
. They can use it indirectly, with acupuncture
needles, or sometimes burn it on a patient's skin.
The word "moxa" comes from Japanese mogusa
(艾) (the u
is not very strongly enunciated). Yomogi (蓬)
also serves as a synonym for moxa in Japan. Chinese
uses the same character as mogusa
, but pronounced differently: ài
, also called àiróng
The Chinese character for moxa forms one half of the two making up the Chinese word that often gets translated as "acupuncture" zhēnjiǔ (針灸).
Theory and practice
Practitioners use moxa to warm regions and acupuncture points
with the intention of stimulating circulation
through the points and inducing a smoother flow of blood
. Research, for example at Mugwort (Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine by Clare Hanrahan)
has shown that mugwort acts as an emmenagogue
, meaning that it stimulates blood-flow in the pelvic area
. It is claimed that moxibustion militates against cold and dampness in the body and can serve to turn breech babies
Medical historians believe that moxibustion pre-dated acupuncture, and needling came to supplement moxa after the 2nd century BC. Different schools of acupuncture use moxa in varying degrees. For example a 5-elements acupuncturist will use moxa directly on the skin, whilst a TCM-style practitioner will use rolls of moxa and hold them over the point treated. It can also be burnt atop a fine slice of ginger root to prevent scarring.
Practitioners consider moxibustion to be especially effective in the treatment of chronic problems, "deficient conditions" (weakness), and gerontology. Bian Que (fl. circa 500 BC), one of the most famous semi-legendary doctors of Chinese antiquity and the first specialist in moxibustion, discussed the benefits of moxa over acupuncture in his classic work. He asserted that moxa could add new energy to the body and could treat both excess and deficient conditions. On the other hand, he advised against the use of acupuncture in an already deficient (weak) patient, on the grounds that needle manipulation would leak too much energy.
A huge classical work, Gao Huang Shu (膏肓俞), specialises solely in treatment indications for moxa on a single point (穴).
Note that Taoists use scarring moxibustion along with Chinese medical astrology for longevity.
Practitioners may use acupuncture needles made of various materials in combination with moxa, depending on the direction of qi flow they wish to stimulate.
Parallel uses of mugwort
and South America
, indigenous peoples regard mugwort as a sacred plant of divination and spiritual healing, as well as a panacea
. Mugwort amongst other herbs were often bound into smudge sticks
placed sprigs of mugwort under pillows to provoke dreams; and the herb had associations with the practice of magic