There are two types of moxibustion: direct and indirect. In direct moxibustion, a small, cone-shaped amount of moxa is placed on top of an acupuncture point and burned. This type of moxibustion is further categorized into two types: scarring and non-scarring. With scarring moxibustion, the moxa is placed on a point, ignited, and allowed to remain onto the point until it burns out completely. This may lead to localized scarring, blisters and scarring after healing.
With non-scarring moxibustion, the moxa is placed on the point and lit, but is extinguished or removed before it burns the skin. Indirect moxibustion is currently the more popular form of care because there is a much lower risk of pain or burning.
In indirect moxibustion, a practitioner lights one end of a moxa stick, roughly the shape and size of a cigar, and holds it close to the area being treated for several minutes until the area turns red.
Another form of indirect moxibustion uses both acupuncture needles and moxa. A needle is inserted into an acupoint and retained. The tip of the needle is then wrapped in moxa and ignited, generating heat to the point and the surrounding area. After the desired effect is achieved, the moxa is extinguished and the needle(s) removed.
Moxibustion generates heat and therefore energy which can be directed up or down an acupuncture meridian stimulating various points or organ systems. Heat is used to move energy (Qi) and/or Blood. This heat energy also stimulates the immune system helpful when treating allergies, a variety of infections, inflammation or immune deficiency conditions.