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Acupuncture can be used alone or in conjunction with a wide variety of tools and techniques. As an integral part of his/her extensive training, every acupuncturist learns how to effectively apply very specific ancillary modalities that are designed to enhance the healing effect of acupuncture treatment. One such therapeutic modality is known as moxibustion, commonly referred to as "moxa." Though commonly used in conjunction with acupuncture, moxa has such powerful therapeutic effects that it is oftentimes used alone.


Moxibustion treats and helps prevent disease by applying heat to acupuncture points or certain locations on the body. The heat penetrates and spreads out, delivering a unique kind of herbal medicine into the energy pathways (meridians) and deep into the body tissues. For this reason, moxa is particularly favored by our clients who experience sports-related injuries.


The penetration of heat accompanied by the medicinal action of the herb is scientifically proven to benefit the body, promoting health and wellness in the following variety of ways:

  • Helps to heal injured tissues, restoring function
  • Alleviates painful symptoms by promoting the smooth flow of energy through the meridians
  • Enhances the immune system
  • Stimulates the release of endorphins (the "happy chemicals") in the brain
  • Helps to regulate menstrual issues
  • Regulates the function of body organs such as the kidneys, bladder, and intestines
  • Warms the entire body no matter where it is applied--wonderful in the winter months


The material used in moxibustion is referred to as "moxa-wool", a dried woolly substance made from a species of chrysanthemum known as Artemesia vulgaris. Moxa was widely used in China over 3,500 years ago even before the advent of acupuncture, as ancient healers extolled its medicinal virtues. Throughout prior centuries and into the present, Artemesia vulgaris has been the herb of choice; and moxa continues to be applied in much the same way as it was in ancient times. It is just as valued today.


It should be noted that Moxibustion treatment is not something you will find just anywhere. It must only be applied by a licensed acupuncturist trained in its application.


What Will I Experience?


Above all, please note that moxa does not burn the skin. The most sensation you will experience is a very pleasant mild heat on the surface of the skin. Moxa comes in many forms, from long sticks that are waved over the skin to small cones that are placed directly on the skin. The form of moxa used is dependent upon the location and the indication. A moxa cone is lit with a fragrant sandalwood incense stick, so no flame ever comes close to the body. Once lit, each cone is allowed to burn down only two-thirds of the way and then is quickly removed. The moxa itself produces a non-irritating smoke with a pleasant odor that never seems to bother even our clients who have severe allergies and/or asthma. Most people really like the scent and say it makes them feel really good.


Many of our clients fall asleep during moxa treatment. Some even experience a sense of euphoria. It is very relaxing aspect of acupuncture treatment.


Theresa L. Spradlin, M.Ac., L.Ac., Dipl. Ac. (NCCAOM) Board Certified Licensed Acupuncturist

1058 S. Walter Reed Drive, Arlington, VA 22204

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