Moxibustion treatment is a modern adaptation of an ancient therapy with its origins in East Asia. At its most basic, it involves the burning of moxa, a form of mugwort, and applying it to the skin. It is claimed to be effective for a range of conditions, including for pain management, turning breech babies, and as a form of detox.

What is moxibustion therapy?

Artemesia, also known as mugwort, is the primary herb used in moxibustion treatment. The dried leaves are ground up and turned into a cone, or a stick that resembles a cigar. This is known as a moxa. The cone can then be burned and either applied to the skin directly or to an acupuncture needle that is then inserted into a traditional acupuncture point.

Chinese medicine has been using moxibustion for at least 3000 years. It follows many of the same principles as acupuncture. The areas of the body where it is applied are the same pressure points as in acupuncture and serve the same purpose. They are meant to stimulate the circulation and encourage the flow of qi, or energy, through the body. It has a strong smell.

Other countries with long-standing moxibustion traditions include Japan, Korea, Vietnam and Mongolia.

Modern moxibustion treatments

There are two main forms of moxibustion treatment: direct and indirect.

Direct moxibustion

This is when the moxa is applied directly to the skin at a pressure point. As the cone burns, your skin may start to redden, at which point it will be removed. It is generally kept at a low temperature and will be lifted as soon as you feel the increasing heat. When done properly, there should not be any burning or scarring, but there is still a risk. That is why it is so important to go to a skilled professional for your treatment.

Indirect moxibustion

Rather than applying the moxibustion directly to the skin, it can be wrapped around an acupuncture needle. The needle is inserted into your body at an appropriate point before the moxa is set alight. As it burns down, the heat will travel through the needle until it reaches you. There is no need for the moxa to touch your skin, so the risk of accidental burns or scars is reduced.

How can this help you detox?

While moxibustion has been used in the treatment of a wide range of conditions, some of the most famous include turning breech babies so they are head first and alleviating the pain and cramps associated with menstruation.

It is also said to have a detoxifying impact. That applies to the surrounding air when the moxa is burned, and to the body itself. It is believed to have purifying effects and may create a generally cleansing atmosphere. Toxins can be removed from the body and the immune system can be given a boost.

Moxibustion treatment is an ancient therapy with a range of possible benefits. One of these is detoxing the body. If you go to a trained professional, moxibustion is a safe alternative to other forms of detox therapy. This is true of both the direct and indirect forms, although both have their own advantages and disadvantages.