The healing heat of moxibustion

Written by Chris Fehres | 7 July, 2020

As acupuncturists we have a wide range of tools at our disposal to aid in improving our treatment outcomes. Aside from the iconic acupuncture needle, moxibustion could be considered the philosophical Yang to the steel needle Yin of the craft.

Its pungent smoky presence in our clinics speaks of ancient times when masters of the past would cure the ills of the sick and purge the prone of demonic possession (Huang et al. 2017, p. 5).

Traditional uses of moxibustion included direct – with cones made from leaf powder, or indirect – with a stick made of leaves to heat the skin (Adams 2012, p. 118). Analogous moxa preparations are available today in all manner of forms from traditional to smokeless, and pharmacological studies have revealed the presence of more than 60 different components within the leaf (Deng & Shen 2013, p. 4).

Moxibustion was such an integral aspect of the practice of acupuncture that the Chinese characters for acupuncture – 针灸 (zhēnjiǔ) actually translate to “acupuncture-moxibustion” (Huang et al. 2017, p. 1). Evolution of Chinese medicine saw the integration of moxibustion with the meridian system where it was used to warm the channels to nurture Yang and eliminate the cold of Yin, activate the acupuncture points and correct the disease state of the human body (Deng & Shen 2013, p. 2). Since the advent of Traditional Chinese Medicine and scientific research, experts have investigated the effects of moxibustion for the treatment of 364 diseases with animal and human trials (Huang et al. 2017, p. 5).

While the basis of moxibustion was to stimulate the meridians and bring warmth to the body (Deng & Shen 2013, p. 2), there are a number of complex chemical occurrences that underpin the mechanisms of the therapeutic effects of moxibustion on the body (Deng & Shen 2013, p. 4). Through clinical trials, moxibustion’s therapeutic benefits have been found to occur as a result of a combination of thermal, infrared (Deng & Shen 2013, p. 3) and pharmacological effects (Deng & Shen 2013, pp. 4 - 5).

Practitioners of ancient China had certainly developed a formidable form of therapy to complement the once budding practice of acupuncture. And although its therapeutic properties have been well-known for thousands of years, it is with the scrutiny of modern science that we are able to appreciate the full extent of its profound healing effects on the body.


Huang C., Liang J., Han L., Liu J., Yu M. & Zhao B. (2017) Moxibustion in Early Chinese Medicine and Its Relation to the Origin of Meridians: A Study on the Unearthed Literatures. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Vol. 2017. Viewed 12 June 2020. Source.

Deng H. & Shen X. (2013). The Mechanism of Moxibustion: Ancient Theory and Modern Research. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Vol. 2017. Viewed 12 June 2020. Source.

Adams J., Garcia C. & Garg G. (2012). Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris, Artemisia douglasiana, Artemisia argyi) in the Treatment of Menopause, Premenstrual Syndrome, Dysmenorrhea and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Chinese Medicine. Vol. 3. pp. 116 - 123. Viewed 12 June 2020. Source.

Chris Fehres

Having completed his Bachelor of Health Science majoring in Acupuncture from Endeavour College of Natural Health in 2015, Chris graduated with distinction and was awarded the medal of academic excellence for highest achievement in acupuncture across Australia. He has participated as an alumni representative for the Course Advisory Committees for both Acupuncture and Bio-sciences departments, as well as having been chosen as the focus for Endeavour's 2017 - 18 Graduate Stories write-up. Going back to where it all began, he currently tutors for Clinical Examination at Endeavour College's Brisbane campus alongside some of the very lecturers that taught him.

Chris has always had a passion for the inner workings of the human body, directing his focus to the ongoing study of human anatomy and physiology and how these systems are influenced by acupuncture. While capable of treating a wide range of conditions with acupuncture, his passion is treating musculoskeletal injuries and conditions. Chris runs a boutique acupuncture clinic from his home in Sherwood, Brisbane called Fehresian Energetics.

Read more by Chris Fehres

Related Articles