Moxibustion or moxa treatment is an oriental medicine therapy involving the burning of moxa or mugwort herb (Artemisia vulgaris) close to the skin to treat diseases or produce analgesia (pain relief). Moxibustion may also utilize wormwood or other combustible and slow-burning substances. The purpose is to strengthen and stimulate the blood and qi (life energy) of the body.
Moxibustion plays an important role in the traditional medical systems of China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Tibet, and Mongolia. The basic technique involves placing burning mugwort over the affected area on the body, particularly on an acupuncture point, and removing it before burning the skin (Kim 2001). Suppliers usually age the mugwort and grind it up to a fluff; practitioners burn the fluff or process it further into a stick that may resemble a (non-smokable) cigar or into a cone. They can use it indirectly, with acupuncture needles, or sometimes burn it on a patient's skin.
Moxibustion is generally used in conjunction with acupuncture techniques, and the Chinese character for acupuncture translates literally into "acupuncture-moxibustion" (Kim 2001). Moxibustion has been used for perhaps more than 3,000 years (Kim 2001).
Moxibustion has been shown, in experimental trials, to have success in turning breech babies (Cardini and Huang 2001; Neri et al. 2002, 2004), and it also is used in such conditions as treating inflammations, menstrual cramps, chronic problems, and "deficient conditions" (weakness).