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The fire that accompanies the needle

Illustration of a moxibustion session

"No boredom, no gloom can resist the moxa that one puts on one's soul by giving oneself a mania", Honoré de Balzac.


A term of Japanese origin, moxa (moxibustion) means "burning plant". Its use dates back thousands of years and is said to be one of China's oldest forms of therapy. It remains a very popular method, also used within the family, in China, Japan, Vietnam and other Asian countries.


The Chinese ideogram for "acupuncture" actually means "needle-fire". The technique of moxibustion is inseparable from acupuncture, which it complements with heat and energy.


Moxibustion is a technique for stimulating acupuncture points or skin areas with heat. The heat is produced by burning a plant, mugwort, dried and ground. Traditionally, mugwort has been observed to be the plant with the best therapeutic results, an observation that is now explained by the infrared heat produced by the plant as it burns.


Mugwort can be packaged in a cigar shape, with the glowing tip brought close to the acupuncture point; it can also be placed in a box to allow it to burn slowly; it is sometimes placed on the head of a needle, or on an ointment applied thickly to the area to be treated.


Moxas are commonly used to disperse Cold and Humidity, or tonify Qi. Generally speaking, they activate the circulation of Qi and Blood in the body and meridians. Chinese medicine considers the free circulation of Qi and Blood to be essential to good health, since disruption of these flows causes pain and illness.


Moxibustion is particularly indicated for conditions such as rheumatic pain, dysmenorrhea, diarrhea, fatigue or chronic illness, to boost vital energy.


It is also used to turn a breech fetus a few weeks short of term. In 1979, a team of Chinese researchers demonstrated a 90.23% success rate in the treatment of fetal malposition (out of 2069 cases).

More particularly, moxibustion is indicated in the following cases:

Joint pain

Muscle pain

Digestive conditions

Intestinal disorders

Infectious diseases

Anxiety, anguish and depression

Asthenia, fatigue, burn-out, overwork, exhaustion

Skin conditions

Chilliness and cold sensations

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