Moxa is a modality of Chinese medicine that can be used with acupuncture needles or alone. Moxa involves the use of dry herbs, usually Mugwort (Artemesiae Vulgaris) to warm and activate acupuncture points and meridians. It is mostly used for warming and tonifying deficient Qi and Yang. Moxa can be burned in the form of a stick, a cone or loose in a “moxa box”.
A Moxa stick consists of tightly rolled herbs in cigar form, it is used to stimulate acupuncture points alone or where a needle has been inserted. The moxa is held approximately one half inch from the acupuncture point but does not touch the skin.
Loose moxa is formed into cones and burned directly on the acupuncture point. Vaseline is usually used to hold the cone in place over the point. The moxa cone is burned approximately two thirds down or just before the heat is intolerable and then removed from the skin with tweezers.
A moxa box is place on the patient’s abdomen or back allowing moxa to burn over a broad area. Inside the moxa box is a screen that holds burning moxa one to two inches above the skin surface. Some traditional used of the moxa box are for aiding digestion, menstrual cramps and excess bleeding and some causes of back pain.
Other clinical uses of moxa are for arthritis, asthma, cold hands and feet, diarrhea, excess sweating, incontinence, muscle pain and turning breech babies. It is used to expel Cold and Dampness, Invigorate Qi and Blood flow and is helpful in disease prevention. Moxa sticks are often prescribed for home use.
Cupping is the use of glass globes or bamboo jars and heat to create a vacuum suction on the patient’s skin. The jars are usually placed on the back or chest areas. This technique is used to Invigorate Blood and Disperse Wind, Heat and Damp. Some conditions it is use for are asthma or bronchial congestion, muscle pain and Injury, joint pain, and headaches.