First discussed in the Shang Han Lun (On Cold Damage), the warm needle acupuncture technique is a combination of Acupuncture and Moxibustion. A needle is inserted in to a point and a small amount of moxa (Mugwort (Ai Ye) herb) is placed on the end of the needle.
Loose moxa is compacted with the fingers and then secured on to the end (tail) of the needle, the moxa is then ignited from the side closest to the skin, so that heat is not blocked by unburned moxa. ”Shish moxa”, or small moxa rolls that are precut and ready to place on the needle can also be used.
A protective cover can be placed on the skin to avoid burning ashes falling on the patient.
The warm needle technique is traditionally used for cold stagnation in the channels, or when the circulation of Blood and Qi is obstructed in the channels.