What is moxibustion?

Moxibustion is a therapeutic technique that goes hand in hand with acupuncture and has been a part of Chinese Medicine practices for thousands of years. Moxibustion, affectionately known as moxa, involves the burning of mugwort, a dried herb derived from the Artemisia vulgaris plant, to stimulate specific acupuncture points on the body. Moxa can be used as a part of any acupuncture treatment in a number of different ways: direct or indirect.

  • In direct moxa, a small cone of moxa is placed directly on the skin and lit. The intensity of the heat is controlled by the provider to prevent burns.
  • In indirect moxa, the moxa is burned near the body or through another medium, e.g. placed on top of a needle, salt or ginger.

At Ikigai Wellness, our providers often use rice grain style moxa moxibustion (seen in the video) – unique to the traditional Japanese-style of practice.



Moxa comes in a number of grades of purity and can be applied in a number of ways. In the Japanese-style, we apply the highest (purest) grade of moxa directly to the skin and burn it. The style of moxa is called rice grain moxibustion because of the size of the cones used. 


The moxa fluff is rolled into a thin string and small rice grain sized cones are placed onto the skin and lit using incense. A small amount of ointment is used on the skin as a protective barrier and gives the moxa something to stick to on the point being treated.

Why moxa?

Mugwort’s unique properties, including its aromatic compounds and volatile oils, are thought to play a role in its therapeutic effects. Research has shown that the heat created from the burning of mugwort is infrared heat, known to stimulate healing within the body. Moxibustion works great to:

Patients often describe moxa to be calming as the warmth enters and radiates through their body during treatments. Moxa is one of many non-inserted tools used by acupuncturists that patients find very healing and comfortable.

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