There are two types of moxibustion: direct and indirect. Direct moxibustion is when a small, cone-shaped amount of moxa is placed on top of an acupuncture point and lit so it gently smoulders. The patient experiences a pleasant heating sensation that penetrates deep into the skin.
Indirect moxibustion is when a moxa stick, roughly the shape and size of a cigar, is lit and smolders whilst it is held close to the area being treated for several minutes.
Sometimes another form of indirect moxibustion can be used where the tip of an inserted needle is wrapped in moxa and smoulders gently, generating heat right into the point and the surrounding area.
Most people like the smell of the smoke from the moxa, and it has been said that if you cannot smell moxa as you approach your acupuncturist’s clinic then you should find a different acupuncturist!
In Western medicine, moxibustion has successfully been used to turn breech babies into a normal head-down position prior to childbirth.