Moxibustion is a therapy so closely related to acupuncture, that the Chinese character for Acupuncture zhen-jiu, jiu contains the fire radical, as a whole understood as meaning that acupuncture involves moxibustion. Moxa is made from the leaves of mugwort (artemesia vulgaris), chosen because it burns slowly and with a high temperature.
Moxa comes in different forms, as processed leaf it is known as ‘moxa punk’ and can be rolled into small sesame grains and burned directly on the skin, larger cones can be burnt down but removed before the actually burn the skin, or they can be burned on top of slices of Ginger. Moxa punk of a fine grain quality can also be pressed into balls which sit on top of an acupuncture needle, warming through it, deep into the body.
It comes also as a stick which is lit and the burning end used to warm the acupuncture point, channel, joint or muscle as required. In this case the practitioner will hold it an inch or so away and allow the radiant heat to warm the client.
Moxibustion is practiced alone by some practitioners especially in Japan, who use it not only to warm cold disorders, but also to clear heat, by being very precise about where they put it.