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Moxibustion, or Moxa, is the Traditional Chinese Medicine practice of burning specific herbs (mugwart) to strategically warm the body. This treatment is used to counteract excess Cold and Damp conditions and to replenish the body’s warmth (Yang). Moxa sticks can be applied directly to acupuncture needles, bring warmth deep into the tissue at the specific spot. They can also be moved over an acupuncture point, gently warming the skin and replenishing a general area. 

In addition to producing a physical warming effect, moxibustion also generates a biochemical effect. Moxa oil released when burning the herb has a plethera of biological activities including expansion of airway smooth muscle, cough suppression, and strong antioxidant effects. 

The herb used to provide the warming sensation has a strong smell, and can be irritating. Some people who are particularly sensitive to Moxa may need to leave the room while their pets receive treatment. 

Most animals enjoy the warming sensation provided by Moxibustion therapy. This treatment is not right for every animal, however. Due to it’s strong warming effects, Moxibustion therapy should be avoided in animals with excess Heat conditions or Yin deficiencies (leading to Heat). 

Emily Falk, DVM