Moxibusion is a technique involving moxa, the herb mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris). In Chinese Herbal Medicine, this herb is used to invigorate the flow of Qi and blood, promote a pain-relieving effect, and deeply penetrate the area of discomfort with soothing warmth.
The moxa herb is lit on fire so that it smolders. It can be placed on top of an acupuncture needle (warming needle moxa). It can be burned in stick form (indirect moxa) which looks a bit like a cigar with the moxa rolled in the center. In this form, the acupuncturist hovers and swirls the stick of burning moxa above various acupuncture points, gently stimulating them and encouraging the flow of Qi and Blood. Another way moxa can be used is by setting the herb on top of a thin slice of ginger or other barrier to shield the skin as the moxa smolders. Rice grain moxa is done with very tiny pieces of high grade, cooler burning moxa that is placed directly on the skin or on top of a dab or salve. This form of moxibustion allows the heat to be focused directly into an acupuncture point.
Moxibustion is particularly effective for conditions like tight muscle spasms, low back pain, frozen shoulder, or various osteoarthritic joint pains, especially when pain is worsened by damp and cold weather. It is also great for many digestive complaints as well as fatigue.
It you would like to learn more about moxibustion, check out my blog http://pagemorrison.wordpress.com/2013/01/14/hello-world/