Acupuncture points are also stimulated by burning a herb called "moxa" over the point. The name "moxa" is derived from its Japanese name Mogusa (which means burning herb). The botanical name of the herb is Artemis Vulgaris commonly known as Mugwort. Before use, the raw herb is processed into moxawool by grinding the dry leaves of this plant into a fine wool. When the moxa is burnt, the smoke has a characteristic odor that is similar to the smell of hashish.
Moxa is used in two ways, either directly on the skin or indirectly through a needle, garlic salt or ginger. Direct moxibuxtion is carried out with a smouldering cigar of moxa, which is used to warm the acupuncture point from a distance of one centimeter.
In indirect moxibuxtion a slice of ginger, or garlic is placed over the acupuncture point. The moxa is then placed on it and ignited. Another method of indirect moxibuxtion is to place a small ball of Moxawool on the head of an acupuncture needle. This is then lit, allowing the needle to transmit this heat directly to the acupuncture point through the needle. In a patient with severe pain in the abdomen, coma or shock the navel is filled with salt and a small ball of moxa is lit over it. This can revive a patient within a few minutes!
Moxa disperses the cold and so is used in the treatment of diseases like arthritis, and bronchitis, which are said to be caused by wind, cold and damp. Moxibuxtion is used to treat chronic bronchitis, bronchial asthma, chronic diarrhoea, arthritis and some conditions where there has been an inadequate response to acupuncture with needles. Many other substances have been tried as alternatives to moxa, but it appears that none of these alternatives are as effective as moxa in healing.