Moxibustion treats and prevents diseases by applying heat to points or certain locations of the human body. The material used is mainly ” moxa – wool ” in the form of a cone or stick. For centuries, moxibustion and acupuncture have been used in clinical practice, thus they are usually termed together in Chinese. “A disease that may not be treated by acupuncture may be treated by moxibustion.” “When a disease fails to respond to medication and acupuncture, moxibustion is suggested.” The actual Chinese character for acupuncture, translated literally, means “acupuncture-moxibustion.” The purpose of moxibustion, as with most forms of traditional Chinese medicine, is to strengthen the blood, stimulate the flow of qi, and maintain general health.
There are two types of moxibustion: direct and indirect. In direct moxibustion, a small, cone-shaped amount of moxa is placed on top of an acupuncture point and burned. This type of moxibustion is further categorized into two types: scarring and non-scarring. With scarring moxibustion, the moxa is placed on a point, ignited, and allowed to remain onto the point until it burns out completely. This may lead to localized scarring, blisters and scarring after healing. With non-scarring moxibustion, the moxa is placed on the point and lit, but is extinguished or removed before it burns the skin. The patient will experience a pleasant heating sensation that penetrates deep into the skin, but should not experience any pain, blistering or scarring unless the moxa is left in place for too long.
Moxibustion is usually taught as part of a qualified acupuncture or traditional Chinese medicine degree program. Although there are no licensing or accreditation requirements associated with the practice of moxibustion, in the United States, a practitioner must have an acupuncture license to be allowed to perform moxibustion.