Why I’m a Moxibustion Freak and I Think You Should Be Too

moxa 3


Sometimes I feel so passionate bout Moxa that I feel I could pop.

Why? Well
1. I’m a major chinese med geek
2. Because of the untapped potential of this amazing technique. It’s a true gem.


  • cheap
  • easy to use for most people
  • portable

Lets put it into context.

To start, what is it? Moxibustion is  the burning/smouldering  of the herb known as Mugwort (botanically known as artemisa agyii,princeps or  montanta)  that has been dried, processed & aged so that it is a punk (soft downy fluff made from the hairs & oil of the leaves) or rolled into cigar like sticks. (uses more fibrous parts of the plant)

Moxa is burnt on or near acu-points in the body.


It’s use has been recorded from 100 or 300 BC.  In one of the biggest archeological discoveries of the 20th century, in China, inside the Ma Wang Dui tombs, there were found two silk scrolls devoted entirely to Moxibustion and channel theory.   It pre-dates Acupuncture and it has been cited that Moxibustion use is what brought about an understanding of the channels (meridians)

It’s a hardy weed that grows in places like old car yards, cracks in a pavement, along highways and apparently just down where  the Merri creek meets the Yarra (right near my house!)

It’s smoke contains no carcinogens, and is used as anti-bacterial fumigant. It’s been used as a purifying agent across the globe from Nth American indigenous tribes to buddhist and shinto shrines in Japan.

Historically, both in Asia and Europe, at the same time of year- spring,  people would hang it from their windows and door frames,or put it on their roof, to ‘ward of evil spirits’ as part of particular festival rituals. What they didn’t know at that time was mosquitos carried deadly blood borne pathogens and that mugwort, has an inspect repellence to it. So the house protected by mugwort was less likely to become infected.

Moxibustion has traditionally been medicine for the people, for the villages. With the introduction of metal working techniques, Acupuncture arose and so channel theory developed and with it a culture of the Scholar-Physician. These generations of doctors developed medicine and wrote extremely influential texts, but fundamentally existed to serve the upper echelons of society,the emperor/ress and their court.

Thought to lack sophistication, Moxibustion was disregarded in this arena, except; when all else failed and as a preventative to prolong life.

It was really after the Buddhists took medicine to Japan that moxa began to flourish and develop.  In Japan, moxibustion is regarded as a serious branch of medicine; just as one can specialise to become a herbalist or an acupuncturist, one can be a moxibustionist there.

How does Moxa work?

It’s effect is two-fold; a heat and a chemical trigger.

The heat –moxa’s heat has a particular signature. It emits an infra-red ray that is akin to the skin. This far-infra ray is known to be conducive to the health of the cells. The heat triggers a response in heat receptor proteins which in turn generates a systemic repair response.

The oil- as the moxa burns is generates an oil which infuses the skin and then sets of a bio-chemical reaction in the body.

There still needs to be more  research on this herb and technique but most of the research that has been done is on this acu-point.  Called Stomach 36 or Zu San Li

st 36

Luckily for us, this point is easily located and enables us to perform moxa on ourselves.  You can perform moxa on many many points of the body.


Why do Moxa?

I suggest you get to know Moxa, to use  as a self care technique.  It maintains the effects of your acupuncture treatment.  But it’s also super powerful for:

  • fatigue
  • pain – joints/ stomach / menstrual
  • immunity

How do I do it?

The most simple and still effective way is to get a cigar like roll of moxa from your practitioner or they sell boxes at China Books

Basically, you light it, tap away any ash and point at the point you need.

There is a more targeted and effective technique.  It’s called ‘rice-grain’ technique.  It takes a few attempts to master the technique so you need to learn from somebody and have a few pieces of equipment.  Here  is a great VIDEO  how to do it.

It complements a breathing and relaxation practice wonderfully.

It’s lovely  practice to do for a friend or partner.  So, get curious about it.  If you’d like me to teach you more about how you can use Moxa as part of your self-care practice, please ask me in clinic.

Look forward to seeing you soon.


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