This can be a popular method for those fearful of acupuncture needles. A practitioner lights one end of a moxa stick (roughly the shape and size of a cigar) and holds it an inch or two away from the skin, usually around certain points on the body to bring mild warmth to the area without burning, until the skin becomes slightly red.
The intensity of the heat is adjusted according to the patient’s condition and comfort. Indirect moxa is considered to induce a gradual localized vasodilatation response and useful for the relief of pain as well as many other conditions.
In addition to increasing the local blood flow, skillful indirect moxibustion is extremely comforting and can create a deep relaxation response.
Moxibustion can be used in combination with needles and with the use of Mugwort, a dried Chinese herb with many therapeutic properties.