Moxabustion involves gently warming the skin with an incense made of the moxa plant, also called Mugwort. The leaves of the plant are dried and ground to a fluffy powder. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, moxibustion is used to relieve a cold or stagnant condition, to stimulate circulation, and improve the flow of blood and qi. It is exceptionally good for relieving arthritic pain in the joints.
Moxabustion can be applied in a variety of ways. Moxa sticks, which resemble either cigarettes or incense sticks, may be burned near the skin until the skin feels warm and is slightly pink. For some conditions, small cones of moxa can be burned directly on the skin. To warm and tonify the belly, moxa may be burned on the navel.
Mugwort has been prized in many cultures for it's healing and spiritual properties. In Europe, bundles of mugwort were once burned for spiritual purification, very similar to the way white sage is used by some Native American tribes. Moxa smoke has a strong pungent odor which may be mistaken for marijuana, but it is an entirely unrelated plant.