The Chinese character 'Chiu' is
used to describe the art of moxibustion, and literally means 'to scar with
a burning object'. Moxibustion does not now involve scarring, but moxa is
still used to provide local heat over acupuncture points. It is made from
the dried leaves of Artemisia vulgaris and the Chinese believe that the older
the moxa, the better its therapeutic properties. Moxibustion developed as
a medical practice completely separate from acupuncture, although it is now
very much a part of current acupuncture practice in China. It is used to treat
specific types of disease and is applied over the same body points (acupuncture
points) as acupuncture needles. Some of the acupuncture points, such as those
around the eye, are forbidden to moxa. In ancient China, moxa was also burnt
on specific acupuncture points to keep the body healthy, and was said to act
as a prophylactic against disease. Moxa can be used in a variety of ways.
Loose moxa is made into a cone and burnt on the skin, the cone then being
removed when it is half burnt, to avoid blistering. It may also be burnt on
ginger or garlic so that the skin is isolated from extreme heat, or a moxa
stick may be used and burnt a centimetre or two away from the skin.