Moxabustion 101-Indirect vs. Direct

ith the cold weather here in full force, there’s no better time than to talk about the wonderful hot therapy called moxibustion.In this post, we’re going to investigate the 2 main types of moxibustion and showcase Japanese moxibustion (moxa) which is the kind that we burn the most at the Center.

But first here’s a quick rundown on what exactly Japanese Moxibustion is. Watch this video of me doing my best to keep it simple…

In this video, I get a chance to hang with my friend Hiroshi who owns Sankei, the only shop in the world (inconveniently located in Tokyo) that exclusively sells “everything moxa”.

If you’ve never had a treatment at the clinic (what has taken so long?) you will know that I use moxibustion  ALL THE TIME BECAUSE IT WORKS SO WELL!!! If I had to pick one modality that’s the coolest, I’d definitely have to pick moxibustion. The fun part about moxa is there are so many fascinating ways to apply it.

Indirect Moxa

Indirect Moxibustion- less impact but a slightly more comfortable heat application. We gently burn a lesser quality moxa herb that is rolled up tight to heat an acupuncture point or area of pain. It can be manufactured with charcoal or without. It’s smoky, soothing and causes the affected area to turn a nice rosy hue indicating fresh blood is saving a problem.(Please excuse my jet-lagged dishevelled appearance).

Acupuncture Center Toronto provides Traditional Moxibustion in downtown Toronto for breech pregnancy and pain relief

A chunk of moxa can be placed on top of something else (ginger, salt or garlic) and then burned on the skin so that you get a double whammy. You would get the benefits of not only moxa but whatever else is below it on your skin. We love ginger at the clinic and use ginger moxa lots! Ginger moxibustion is amazing for digestion and anything “gut” related.


You can even get moxa stuck on the end of your acupuncture needle. We call it a moxa ball!

Traditional Moxibustion in downtown Toronto for breech pregnancy and pain relief

Direct Moxa

We basically burn the skin on charted acupuncture points or problem areas. This kind of moxa is also called blistering or marking moxa. The effect is more powerful and faster acting than indirect moxa. It’s a micro-burn of the skin. It sounds brutal but not painful. We light on fire 3-5 dabs of a teeny-tiny herb are placed on the skin with a buffer ointment (shiunko cream). This is a beautiful Japanese technique and the herb we use at the clinic comes straight from Japan. Check out our supplier’s goods! Sankei has gorgeous moxa. His stuff is without a doubt the most healing mugwort in the world. Whenever I visit, he prepares me a lovely cup of moxa tea and I start shopping for supplies to bring back to the clinic!

Loose mugwart used by Acupuncture Center Toronto for breech, pregnancy or pain moxibustion

What are Moxa’s healing powers??  (The short answer)

Moxibistion is the ancient practice of burning mugwort on the skin to heal. Mugwort grows all over Asia like wild and carefree weed. When burned on the skin, magic happens.

Here are just a few benefits of moxa:

  • Alleviate pain
  • Break down knots
  • Soothe arthritis and heals joints
  • Rid the body of unwanted waste (known as “evils” in Chinese medicine).
  • Promotes circulation
  • Nourishes life… great for male/female reproductive and sexual health issues
  • Pregnancy- Turns fetus/breach position/overdue labor
  • Combats fatigue

Now that you are an expert on moxa, would you try it?