Moxibustion is a form of holistic medical treatment that involves exposing parts of the body to heat that is produced from a wand or bundle made of tightly wrapped herbs. This bundle is known as a moxa, hence moxibustion’s namesake. Moxibustion is also known as moxabustion, auricular mo, or acumoxa. The parts of the body exposed to the heat are usually pressure points or acupoints, and it is sometimes used in conjunction with acupuncture. Moxibustion is often used as a natural treatment for cancer or for the prevention of cancer. However, no scientific medical evidence exists supporting that this treatment has any positive effect in treating or preventing cancer or any other disease. In fact, some patients of moxibustion have reported an adverse reaction from the oils in some of the herbs that may be used.Moxibustion

Moxibustion Procedure

Moxibustion has its origin in both traditional Tibetan and Chinese medicine. It uses the same principles as acupressure or acupuncture, but uses the moxa to stimulate the acupoints rather than pressure or needles. The main idea is to stimulate the body’s natural abilities to heal. Practitioners of moxibustion purport that the radiant heat produced by the burning or smoldering moxa penetrates deep inside the body. This penetration into the vital areas restores the balance of energy when the flow is experiencing some form of blockage. Some of the traditional ailments it has been used to treat include arthritis, circulatory problems, digestive system disorders, and stomach ulcers.

Types of Moxibustion

The primary herbs used in the moxa are the dried leaves of wormwood and/or mugwort. They can be tightly packed into a cone-shaped bundle or rolled into a cigar-shaped wand. The two primary forms of moxibustion are direct moxibustion and indirect moxibustion. In direct moxibustion, the moxa is burned while in direct contact with the skin. It is said to be the most effective form of treatment, though it has the drawbacks of being painful and possibly leaving scars. Some traditional Chinese practitioners deliberately produce scars during the treatment, but this is very rarely performed in the U.S.

In indirect moxibustion, the burning moxa is held slightly away from the skin. When used in conjunction with acupuncture, the heat is transferred from above the needle. Some practitioners use a layer of herbs or minerals such as garlic, ginger or salt that covers the skin. The moxa is then placed over this layer. Another form of moxibustion is called burnt match moxibustion. It is practiced by lighting a match, blowing it out, and rapidly touching acupoints with the still-hot tip.

Mesothelioma and Moxibustion

One recent clinical trial that examined this form of treatment’s ability to improve the lives of cancer patients showed moxibustation proved effective in decreasing the nausea that accompanies chemotherapy. As a common form of treatment for mesothelioma patients, this practice might greatly alleviate some of the negative consequences. However, methods used in this study were problematic, meaning further research as to moxibustation’s value as a complementary treatment needs to occur before medical professionals can recommend this as an effective mesothelioma treatment.


The American Cancer Society