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Moxibustion is a traditional Chinese medicine technique that involves the burning of a herb called mugwort (Artemisia Vulgaris or 艾叶) near the surface of the skin. Mugwort leaves contain many ingredients such as borneol, which is known for its pain-relieving properties.  

Moxibustion is a natural and non-toxic method to prevent illness and maintain good health. It is often used as an alternative to acupuncture for people who have a phobia of needles, or as a complimentary treatment to acupuncture or tuina to enhance their effects. Here at Singapore Paincare TCM wellness, we use smokeless moxa sticks by hand or mud moxibustion depending on individual condition and needs.

TCM Moxibustion

How does Moxibustion Work?

The mugwort leaves are typically dried and grounded into small sticks, where one end will be lighted to warm specific points on the body. Practitioners believe that the heat from the burning mugwort helps to expel coldness in your body, invigorate the flow of Qi, and strengthen the immune system to promote healing of various conditions.

The process involves a consultation with a physician to assess your condition and come up with a treatment plan. Following that, the physician / therapist will perform either of the 2 moxibustion types:

Hand Moxibustion

At Singapore Paincare TCM, a smokeless moxa stick will be ignited and applied indirectly on your body. The moxa stick will be placed in a holder and held about 3 to 4 centimetres over a treatment area or acupoint. During this time, the moxa stick may move around an area or nearer/further away from the skin, but not directly on it. This process continues until your skin starts to turn red.  

 During the treatment, you will feel a more intense heat on a small spot on your body depending on the location of the moxa stick. There may be a faint smell as well that may linger on the clothes. Please let our providers know if you’re feeling any pain or discomfort during the session. After the treatment, the parts of the skin where treatment was done would be slightly reddened and should go away after a few hours. 

Mud Moxibustion

The mud-like paste contains more than 20 herbs such as mugwort, ginger(老姜), Chinese liquorice(甘草), Chinese Motherwort(益母草), Bupleurum root(柴胡), and more. The warm paste will be applied on the bare skin of the affected area and kept covered for about 15-20 minutes until the paste hardens into a more solid form. Thereafter, the paste is removed.

The application process should feel comfortable, with a warm sensation where the mud moxa is being applied to. This heat may either go away after the mud moxa is removed or remain for hours after the treatment. Any redness on the skin should go away after a few hours.  

How does Moxibustion help in pain management?

According to TCM, pain is caused by the obstruction of Qi and Blood flow in the meridians due to external influences like wind, cold, dampness, or trauma as well as internal health conditions such as weakened liver, spleen, or immune system.

Pathogenic cold can be caused by external factors such as cold weather, air conditioning, excessive consumption of cold food and drinks etc. The cold can seep into deeper organs, affecting the Qi balance in the body in the following ways:

    • Spleen and Stomach Yang Deficiency. This usually results in stomachache, gastric pain, abdominal pain, and diarrhoea.
    • Block the flow of Qi, blood, and other body fluids. This causes blood and other fluids to coagulate in the vessels, causing joint pain on the back, shoulder, wrist, knee etc. Blood stasis can also cause menstrual cramps and other abdominal pain.
    • Contraction of muscles. During cold weather, our muscles contract to restrict blood flow to the surface of our body, preserving heat in our core. Overtime, this can cause muscle stiffness, pain, or cramps on your limbs.

As moxibustion involves heat, it helps to expel coldness in the body. This allows blood and Qi to flow throughout the body, resolving the Qi blockage or blood stasis that is causing pain.

Note: If you have some extreme, unexplainable pain, you should find out the causes first before seeking moxibustion.


How does Moxibustion help with other symptoms?

Other than pain management, expelling coldness from the body can provide other physical and emotional benefits such as:

    • Relieve coldness in hands and feet
    • Improving digestion: Moxibustion helps to warm up the abdomen, restoring the functions of the digestive system. This can also help to reduce symptoms of indigestion such as bloating and constipation.
    • Urinary incontinence: It is typically caused by Kidney Yang deficiency, hence moxibustion helps to regulate Qi flow in the kidneys to expedite the recovery process.
    • Resolve irregular menstrual cycles: Irregular periods are related to the ‘cold womb’ syndrome, whereby yang deficiency in the reproductive system results in lesser blood flow to the womb, depleting it of nutrients. Moxibustion helps to improve blood flow and promote healing of the womb.
    • Improve fatigue and depression by expelling cold in the heart and increasing serotonin uptake, a hormone that regulates sleep and mood

Other than expelling coldness, moxibustion can also warm and tonify Qi, promoting our body’s natural healing abilities. This can help with:

    • Infertility issues: Moxibustion helps with inhibiting ovarian cell death and enhancing its defence ability, strengthening ovarian health.
    • Weight loss: Alongside improving digestion, moxibustion helps to reduce appetite and increase metabolism, a useful complement to other weight loss efforts.
    • Improve immune system to protect against common illnesses like the flu.
    • Anti-ageing: Mud moxibustion is known to remove wrinkles.

Why Choose Us?

Singapore Paincare TCM Wellness integrates an east-west approach to our treatments for a better outcome. Our physicians and therapists undergo multiple trainings at Singapore Paincare Academy (administered by Singapore Paincare Medical Group) to gain a better understanding of clinical conditions so that together with their TCM expertise, they are able to help patients recover.

Is it safe for everyone to undergo moxibustion?

Moxibustion is generally safe for most people as either no burning takes place (for mud moxibustion) or very controlled burning of the moxa is done. We will also take extra care of patients who experience any discomfort or numbness during the session. Moxibustion is generally safe for pregnant ladies as our experienced therapists will know which sensitive points on the stomach and lower back they should avoid. Nonetheless, you should check with your doctor before going for moxibustion.

 Moxibustion is not suitable for people with obvious wounds on their skin like redness and swelling, skin issues, or with serious heat sensitivity. For those with a very warm/hot body constitution, seeking approval from their physician before proceeding with the treatment is recommended.


Is the smoke from moxibustion toxic?

Burning mugwort produces an acrid, spicy odour that some people might find relaxing. It has been noted that burning a high concentration of mugwort produces smoke that can affect the lungs. However, as one moxibustion session is often less than or equal to 1 hour, the amount of moxa burned usually does not reach a toxic level. Additionally, most clinics will be well-ventilated to disperse the smoke.

Nonetheless, at Singapore Paincare TCM, we use smokeless moxa sticks to accommodate those with an aversion to smoke or have respiratory conditions like asthma.

How long does it take before I can see results doing Moxibustion? How often should I go for treatment?

This depends on the severity and scale of each individual’s condition. It generally takes about 3-6 sessions to see results for pain management. Regular moxibustion treatments are also encouraged to promote long-term wellness.

Can Moxibustion be used with other treatment methods?

Yes, moxibustion can be performed alone or in conjunction with acupuncture (acupuncture literally means “acupuncture-moxibustion” in Chinese). In fact, moxibustion enhances the therapeutic effect of body acupuncture, particularly when the practitioner is unable to apply needles to a particular area due to sensitivity or other factors. Some of our services that can be paired with moxibustion are acupuncture, Qi’Nergy Tuina, and our Women’s Health Treatment.


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