Moxibustion is a technique of traditional Chinese medicine that uses a burning herb (with or without needling) to activate acupuncture points and stimulate the flow of qi to heal and improve general health. The heat produced by this procedure can increase blood circulation in patients suffering from cold and stagnant conditions. It can also reduce menstrual cramps by increasing circulation in the pelvic area and uterus.
A full-term pregnancy is, normally, 40 weeks. Spontaneous repositioning of a breech presentation may occur up to the 32nd week, but rarely occurs after the 35th week.
Moxibustion involves burning a formation of tightly packed dried leaves of Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) – on, or above, an acupuncture point. In traditional herbal medicine, this plant is known to have “an affinity” for the nerves, stomach and womb.
Direct and Indirect Moxibustion
In direct moxibustion, a burning moxa cone is placed directly onto the skin, which can cause pain and scarring. In the indirect method, a cigar-shaped moxa is held close to the acupoint being treated until the area turns red. It is then removed before it burns the skin.
Clinical Evidence to show that Moxibustion can help to turn a breech baby in the womb
From a 1998 randomized controlled trial in China, demonstrated the efficacy and safety of moxibustion for the correction of breech presentation at the 33rd week of gestation. In the intervention group, 75% of babies rotated to a head-first position within 1-2 weeks vs 47% in the control group, who received routine care(3).
Cautions:(1) Moxibustion should not be used on anyone diagnosed with “too much heat”. Patients with respiratory problems may request the use of smokeless moxa sticks as an alternative.
(2) Yoichi Kanakura, et al. American Journal of Chinese Medicine. Winter 2001.
(3) JAMA Nov.11 1998 vol.280 (18);1580-1584. doi.10.1001/jama.280.18.1580
(4) J Altern Complement Med. 2008 Dec:14(10):1231-3.
(5) Midwifery 2009 Dec; 25(6):774-80. PMID19853333