Have you ever heard of moxibustion and what it can do for your body? It is part of traditional Chinese medicine practices most commonly practiced with acupuncture. Research has shown that it is very helpful for pregnant women when their baby is in a breeched position approaching her due date. Acupuncture it a great idea for every stage of pregnancy. It can help with morning sickness, aches and pains, and even breeched babies. If your baby becomes breeched they can use moxibustion to help encourage the baby to turn. This is especially helpful for women who are trying to have a homebirth. Let’s take a closer look at moxibustion and what it can do for you.
What is Moxibustion?
Moxibustion is a treatment in traditional Chinese medicine that uses the moxa herb, or mugwort, to stimulate acupuncture points. You can either do moxibustion directly or indirectly.
- Direct – With the direct form a stick or cone of burning mugwort is placed over an acupoint on the body. If using a cone it is placed directly on the point and then burned to stimulate the blood and chi in the body. The burning cones are removed before it causes any pain or burns the skin. Usually patient will feel a warming sensation in the affected area and no pain.
- Indirect – Using the indirect method is the most popular choice today. A burning moxa stick is held over the acupoint for several minutes, until the skin turns pink. Another way is by wrapping acupuncture needle ends in moxa and then inserting them into the acupoints that will be treated. The moxa on these needles is then burned which warms the needles and distributes heat to the affect area.
What Are the Benefits?
Moxibustion is best used for people who have a stagnant condition as it warms and stimulates the chi to circulate. It is believed to expel the cool and warm the body’s chi which helps heal colds. It can also be used to treat the following:
- Pain from injury or arthritis
- Digestive problems
- Hot flashes
- Gynecological problems
- A breeched baby at the end of pregnancy.
Helping with a breech pregnancy is one of the most common practices for moxibustion therapy. There was a study that showed %75 of babies that were breeched turned to the normal position after receiving moxibustion therapy.
How is it Used?
When you have your traditional Chinese medicine appointment the practitioner will take your history and examine you. A diagnosis and proper acupuncture treatment will then be recommended. If they believe moxibustion could help in your situation they will also recommend it to you.
Your practitioner may show you how to find the correct acupuncture points, and how to apply the moxa. This may be a practice that you can do in your very own home. The acupuncture point they will show you is UB 67. It is the primary point used to encourage the baby to turn. It is located on the outer edge of the little toe.
Because the moxa has a warming effect it promotes activity and stimulates the baby to become more active and turn to the correct position. This practice can also be used to help rotate a baby that is facing the wrong way and is transverse presentation.
The mother should be sitting in a relaxing position when using the moxa at home. Her partner should burn the moxa right next to UB 67 creating a warming effect. Be careful not to get to close to the skin so that it starts to burn. This should be performed in the evening so that it is easier for the baby to move when mom is lying down and there is less vertical gravity. Moxibustion should be applied for fifteen minutes for ten days in a row. If the baby has not turned in this time, you should be reassessed by your acupuncturist.
You should stop doing the moxa as soon as the baby has turned. Most women will be able to tell when this happens, as they sometimes feel a strong sensation when the baby flips.
Are There Any Precautions?
Because of the smoke from burning the moxa people with respiratory problems should consult with their primary care doctor first. You can also ask that your practitioner use smokeless moxa sticks instead. Not everyone will benefit from moxibustion even though it has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine. Anyone who is diagnosed with too much heat should not undergo moxibustion therapy because it produces more heat in the body. Before attempting to undergo the treatment to help encourage a breeched baby to turn it is important to consult first with your midwife or doctor.
It is not guaranteed that moxibustion will help turn your breeched baby. However it is a safe treatment that you can try if you do not wish to limit your birthing options. Please consult with your doctor to receive more information about your particular situation before attempting any moxibustion treatments on your own. Your health care provider will have a better understanding of your history and can give you a more personal recommendation.
Acupuncture and moxibustion can help treat a variety of conditions, and is a great source of alternative medicine to try. They are especially helpful during pregnancy and are recommended throughout your entire term and after the baby is born. It is important to note that moxibustion can be used to help encourage babies to turn from the breech position into the correct position for labor. This could help prevent a breech birth or caesarian. Once your baby is in the right position and you are ready for labor you can even try some acupressure massage points to help you with labor. You should even get your partner involved so that they can help you with some of the pressure points. You will both be working together to help bring you child into this world and raise them to be a productive adult. Congratulations on your new baby!