I've been getting more into moxa (short for moxabustion) recently after attending a day course in the summer. Moxa is artemisia, or mugwort; it warms and moves blood and Qi. I find it good for musculoskeletal conditions, making the needles more powerful. It's also used a lot for conditions where the person feels cold or the blood needs nourishing, like after chemotherapy. A Japanese woman, Yuki, lead the course. She originally used moxa on horses as a teenager, so initially didn’t realise you could use it on humans. Moxa is very popular in Japan. Some traditional doctors treat only using moxa on acupuncture points and not needles. A red cream, called shiunko, is placed on the skin so it doesn’t burn. The Japanese practitioners are very aware of the quality of moxa, and go to great pain to grow and process it correctly
Putting moxa directly on a body requires a certain level of skill, so that you don’t burn the patient. This is made easier by using Japanese stick-on moxa which leaves a gap between the skin and the herb. It’s available in different strengths, the lightest being suitable for the face. On the course I was taught a protocol for breast cancer (a strengthening treatment, using acupuncture points on the back) as well as the use of moxa for scar treatment.