What is Moxibustion? How Is It Beneficial With Malpresentation of My Baby?

What is Moxibustion?

Moxibustion is a technique using an herb (Mugwart) in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It is a form of heat therapy that consists of burning herbs on or above specific points in the body to warm regions and meridian points (the body’s energy ‘highway’) with the intention of stimulating circulation and moving blood and Qi (life force). The uses of moxibustion range from headaches/migraines, muscle stiffness, digestive problems, infertility, menstrual cramps, and presentation of nonvertex (breech) fetus. Moxibustion, also known as Moxa, is shown to be non-invasive, gentle, and safe (1).  


The specific point which is used to correct the presentation of a nonvertex fetus is called Zhiyin, also known as Bladder 67, which is located at the outer corner of the 5th toenail (2). This point stimulates the uterus and encourages the fetus to turn (3). A meta-analysis revealed a significant difference in favor of moxibustion on the correction of nonvertex presentation at delivery (7).


The theory behind how this method works is that it stimulates production of placental hormones. One of these hormones is oestrogens, which are necessary for proper development of the fetus’ lungs, kidneys, and liver. This hormone also stimulates growth and proper function of the placenta and prepares the mother’s breast tissue for lactation. Other hormones promoted by the use of moxibustion are prostaglandins. Prostaglandins promote contractility of the uterus. This increases the movements of the fetus and promotes a higher probability of the fetus to rotate to a vertex (head-down) position (4). There are a wide variety of methods and meta-analysis that have been used to study the efficacy of this treatment, Moxibustion. The results shows a very wide range with success rates ranging from 14.7% up to 75% (5, 6).


Given that the results of Moxibustion are proven and the procedure is safe, we think it’s a great option if you are looking for a way to get baby head down.  For more info on helpful positioning, check out these other blogs!


Common Movements for Breech Babies


A Breech Baby Should Not Mean Automatic Cesarean


Oh Shit, My Baby is Breech!



Dr. Kristyn Silver, D.C.

BIRTHFIT West Los Angeles.     @BIRTHFIT_WestLosAngeles




  1. www.acupuncture.rhizome.net.nz/acupuncture/practitioner-resources/moxibustion-therapy/
  2. Cooperative Research Group of Moxibustion Version of Jangxi Province. Research on Acupuncture, Moxibustion and Acupuncture Anesthesia. Beijing, China: Science Press; 1980. Studies of version by moxibustion on Zhiyin points; pp. 810–819.
  3. Deadman, Peter, Mazin Al-Khafaji, and Kevin Baker. A Manual of Acupuncture. Hove, East, Sussex, England: Journal of Chinese Medicine Publications, 1998. 325-26.
  4. Budd S. Midwives Chron. 1992 Jun; 105(1253):140-3.
  5. Pain Treatment Unit, Doña Mercedes Primary Health Care Centre, Andalusian Public Health System, Dos Hermanas, Sevilla 41700, Spain.
  6. Francesco C, Huang W. Moxibustion for correction of breech presentation. J Am Med Assoc. 1998;280:1580–1584. Pub Med.
  7. Cephalic Version By Moxibustion For Breech Presentation. M Coyle-C Smith-B Peat – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22592693


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