Mugwort is an inhibitor of NF-kB, which accounts for its frequent historic use in herbal medicine in many countries.
In a process known as “moxibustion,” mugwort is burned – generally in a rolled up shape resembling a cigar. This burning ‘mugwort cigar’ is held near the patient’s skin at acupuncture points until it either warms or sometimes burns the skin.
It may be that the patient benefits from the inhalation of mugwort fumes/smoke or that in the warming process, when the mugwort is in direct contact with the skin, that some absorption of herbal actives takes place.
There is no good explanation of why this might work, and scant evidence – save the publication referenced below – that it does work.
Nonetheless, it is reported that 93% of fibromyalgia patients improved when moxibustion was combined with standard therapy, whereas only 57% improved with standard therapy alone.
Observation on therapeutic effect of herb-partitioned moxibustion on fibromyalgia syndrome
Summary of the abstract
To observe the clinical therapeutic effect of herb-partitioned moxibustion combined with medication on fibromyalgia syndrome, sixty cases were randomly divided into a treatment group and an observation group. The observation group was treated with oral administration of amitriptyline, and the treatment group was also treated with herb-partitioned moxibustion.
The total effective rate was over 90% for those receiving the additional moxibustion treatment, versus less than 60% for those receiving only standard therapy.
It appears that herb-partitioned moxibustion combined with medication is a more effective therapy for fibromyalgia syndrome.