Moxibustion is the application of heat to specific points on the body in order to treat diseases and restore the smooth flow of Chi in the meridians. Generally the heat is obtained by burning dried mugwort leaves (Artemesia vulgaris, known as moxa ) either directly or indirectly on the skin.
The direct method involves rolling the dried moxa wool into small cones and placing them directly onto the skin. The tips of the cones are set alight but extinguished once heat is felt. With the indirect method prerolled moxa sticks are lit and held close to the skin until too much heat is felt or the skin becomes red.
Sometimes a handful of moxa is lit in a specially designed box that is placed on the back in order to warm a larger area such as the kidneys. Moxa may also be placed on a slice of ginger or garlic, or on salt for more specific effects. Ginger helps to promote circulation while garlic has a strong antiseptic effect.
Moxa is widely used for conditions such as hemiplegia, aphasia, stiff neck, cold, weak back, frozen shoulder, and fatigue and has an invigorating and warming effect.