Smoke Show: The Healing Power Of Moxibustion- PUBLISHED AT APOTHECAI.COM

By now we’ve all seen pictures of athletes and celebrities with big, red circles on their backs, the tell-tale sign of a cupping session. Cupping, a Traditional Chinese Medicine technique that’s been around longer than TMZ, is a close cousin to moxibustion, a form of heat therapy designed to energize the flow of qi in the body.

While cupping stimulates blood and qi flow through suction, moxibustion uses heat and herbs to get things moving.


Moxibustion practitioners burn a substance called moxa for their heat source. Traditionally created from dried mugwort or wormwood leaves, moxa comes in the form of sticks you light and hold like a cigar, or as a smaller bundle that’s placed atop an acupuncture needle. In some cases, moxa is burned directly on the skin, which is as painful as it sounds and not recommended. For obvious reasons, the majority of present-day TCM practitioners prefer the indirect application.


Moxibustion therapy focuses on bringing heat and warmth—yang—into areas of the body that are experiencing cold or stuck energy—yin. Moxibustion is often used in conjunction with acupuncture; the same pathways and energy meridians in the body are stimulated with the goal of restoring the balance of Yin and Yang in the body. During a session, moxa is burned above the surface of the skin until the meridian point targeted becomes warm and red, indicating that qi is beginning to flow.


Edited by Alison Baenen

*image courtesy of

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