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Moxibustion is a Traditional East Asian healing technique that involves the burning of the dried leaves of the mugwort plant. This is a small, spongy herb that is believed to enhance healing. Moxibustion is practiced throughout East Asia. It is generally used alongside acupuncture, although some practitioners, especially in Japan, use it as a stand-alone treatment.

The moxibustion therapist can apply the treatment directly or indirectly. When it is applied directly, small cones, or rice grain shaped pieces of moxa are placed directly on the site of treatment. The therapist lights one end of the cone. The moxa burns slowly, and it is removed when it burns three quarters.

Using indirect moxibustion, the moxa has been rolled into a cylindrical shaped stick. This is held by the practitioner about an inch away from the body, giving a feeling of deep heat to the affected area. Once the area being treated feels warm, it is removed. Occasionally, a stick of moxa can by given to a client for use at home, with instructions on how it can be used safely.

Moxa has anti-inflammatory actions for arthritis. It is used to warm the uterus to treat some types of infertility. It can even be used to encourage breech babies to turn. One report showed that moxibustion can significantly reduce the need for medical procedures used to correct breech presentation. Recent clinical studies found that moxibustion boosts the immune system and enhances physiological functions.


The charity Moxafrica, which aims to research the use of moxibustion for drug resistant TB in resource poor countries, recently looked at the effects of moxibustion for symptoms of long covid. They examined blood tests and concluded that this therapy can be useful as it enhances the immune response.

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