What is Moxibustion?


Moxibustion (or moxa) is a therapeutic method of classical Chinese medicine that involves the application of heat to stimulate acupuncture or other points on the body. As both techniques are complementary to one another and rooted in the same medical tradition, acupuncture and moxibustion are often combined. In many cases, moxa can significantly enhance the effects of acupuncture treatment.

At Acupuncture West London, we offer moxibustion therapy as part of any acupuncture treatment when it is appropriate to do so and at no extra cost. Additionally, we offer moxibustion therapy as a stand-alone therapy for turning breech presentation in pregnancy. Read more about this treatment by clicking here.

Moxa Cones for Back PainMenstrual Cramps
Shoulder PainFrozen Shoulder

Traditionally, moxibustion involves the burning of Chinese mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) – a small, spongy herb – at specific points on the body. The herb is usually rolled into a stick or shaped into a cone and then held over the skin or placed on an acupuncture needle. Due to its warming nature, it has a stimulating effect on the body, helps to build energy levels and further enhances the vitalising effects of acupuncture.

Moxibustion has a long history in traditional Chinese medicine and has been used for thousands of years. It is believed to have originated in ancient times as a way to treat cold and damp conditions, which were thought to be caused by a lack of warmth and energy in the body.

Today, moxibustion is still widely used in traditional Chinese medicine and is gaining popularity in the West as a natural, alternative therapy for a range of health conditions, including the following:

  • Common cold, bronchitis, asthma and respiratory disorders
  • Hay fever and seasonal allergies
  • Immune system support
  • Pregnancy support (including turning breech baby during pregnancy)
  • Digestive conditions (irritable bowel disease (IBS), ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, peptic ulcers, chronic diarrhoea, etc.)
  • Pain management (osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, injuries that do not heal quickly, meniscal tears, etc.)
  • Musculoskeletal problems (stiff and painful muscles, tendons and joints)
  • Cold conditions
  • Menstrual cramps, painful or heavy periods (dysmenorrhoea)

With traditional moxibustion being strongly aromatic and pungent by nature, at Acupuncture West London, we use the highest quality smokeless moxa for your comfort and well-being.

Warming Moxibustion
Abdominal Pain

At Acupuncture West London, we offer six types of moxibustion treatment or heat therapy:

Moxa Stick (indirect moxibustion)

With this technique, the practitioner holds a burning moxa stick over the affected area about two to three inches above the skin. There is no direct contact with the body, but the patient receives a warm, stimulating effect at the area of treatment. This technique is particularly useful when used on the abdomen in the treatment of digestive or gastrointestinal problems.

Moxa Cones (direct moxibustion)

With this technique, the practitioner places moxa cones at specific points directly on the patient’s skin. The cones are lit and remain in place to provide warmth directly to the area of treatment. They are then removed before they burn down too low. The process is repeated as necessary. This technique is particularly useful for treating musculoskeletal and menstrual problems.

Needle M

With this technique, the practitioner places moxa cones on the handles of the acupuncture needles themselves. The cones are lit and remain in place to provide warmth directly to the tip of the needle, thereby facilitating the transferral of heat deep into the tissues. When they have burnt out, the practitioner will remove the cones. The process is repeated as necessary. This technique is particularly useful for musculoskeletal and joint problems, as well as creating an energising effect by bringing heat deep into the body.

Warm Needle Moxibustion

This is a variation of needle moxibustion in which a needle is inserted into an acupuncture point and then warmed using a moxa stick.

Moxa Box

This is a type of indirect moxibustion in which the patient sits with their feet or hands in a box filled with burning moxa. The heat from the moxa is believed to stimulate acupuncture points on the feet or hands.

TDP Heat Lamp

Thermal Design Power (TDP) lamps are far infrared heating devices that are designed to improve blood flow and accelerate natural healing processes. Far infrared (below visible light spectrum) emissions are thought to penetrate deep into the body, increasing microcirculation and thus assisting the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to injured cells while eliminating cellular waste. TDP lamps are increasingly used to support acupuncture treatments and as an alternative to moxibustion.

Some specific ways that infrared heat lamps are used in medicine include:

  1. Pain relief: Infrared heat lamps can be used to provide relief for muscle and joint pain, as the heat helps to relax muscles and increase circulation. This can be particularly helpful for conditions such as arthritis, back pain, abdominal pain and musculoskeletal or sports injuries.
  2. Wound healing: Infrared heat lamps can also help to promote the healing of wounds, as the heat can increase blood flow to the affected area and stimulate the production of collagen, a protein that is essential for wound healing.
  3. Skin rejuvenation: Infrared heat lamps are sometimes used in cosmetic treatments to help rejuvenate the skin. The heat can help to increase collagen production, which can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
  4. Respiratory conditions: Infrared heat lamps can also be used to provide relief for respiratory conditions such as asthma and bronchitis, as the heat can help to relax the airways and reduce inflammation.

Overall, infrared heat lamps are a non-invasive, drug-free way to provide pain relief and promote healing, making them a popular choice in many medical settings.