Moxibustion (Chinese: 灸; pinyin: jiǔ) is a TCM therapy using moxa made from dried mugwort (artemisia argyi).
Moxa is used to warm body areas and acupuncture points with the intention of stimulating circulation through the points and inducing a smoother flow of blood and qi.
There are two types of moxibustion: direct and indirect. In direct moxibustion, a small, cone shaped amount of moxa is placed on top of an acupuncture point.
Indirect moxibustion is more commonly used in the clinics – the practitioner uses a moxa stick and holds it close to the area being treated. A moxa box can also be used where moxa box is placed over the area being treated. Sometimes the practitioner can use a heat lamp over the area to be treated, to achieve the same treatment goal as the moxa box.
Moxibustion has successfully been used to turn breech babies into a normal head-down position. A landmark study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1998 found that up to 75 percent of 130 pregnant women in the study had breech fetuses that turned in the normal position after the mother was treated with moxibustion.
This study (Cardini and Huang 1998) was carried on Chinese women at 33 weeks of pregnancy, demonstrating cephalic change within two weeks in 75 percent of fetuses carried by patients who were treated with moxibustion, as opposed to 48 percent in the control group.
Moxibustion significantly increases fetal movement, and the technique is said to stimulate circulation and energy flow after the acupuncture point Zhi Yin (BL67) near the toenail of the fifth toe is stimulated (Kim 2001).
Check out more information about acupuncture and moxibustion on this YouTube video by UNESCO.