In addition to other therapies, many practitioners use moxibustion or moxa on their patients. Moxa is a form of heat using the herb mugwort. In locations where moxa cannot be burned due to it’s strong smell, practitioners often use a TDP heat lamp.
Moxa can used indirectly. In this case the practitioner or assistant uses a pole that resembles a cigar and holds it a few inches from the area to be warmed. In general the patient feels the heat penetrating deep in to their body.
It can also be used on the needle top itself. For a deeper, more penetrating heat some practitioners will place a small cone of moxa onto a needle. The moxa is burned down and then removed when it goes out. The patient feels a very deep heat in the area, although usually the skin just feels warm.
Finally, in certain instances the practitioner can burn a cone of moxa directly on the skin. While this is a safe procedure in qualified hands, some practitioners prefer not to use because there is a danger of burning. The practitioner must be there to remove the moxa cone the minute the patient feels the heat go from warm to hot. Waiting too long can result in burns.
Moxa can be very smoky and smelly. Some practitioners react negatively to the smell so minimize or eliminate it’s use. Some practitioners find that other people in their building dislike the smell and so do not use it. Additionally burning moxa can be very time intensive. For all these reasons many practitioners use a TDP lamp which generates a penetrating heat instead.