November 11, 2013 by Rebecca Dekker, PhD, RN, APRN
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Approximately 3-4% of babies are in a breech position (bottom-down) at the end of pregnancy. Most women who have a baby in breech positioning have limited options for how they can give birth, with the majority (90% in the U.S.) giving birth by Cesarean. I have already written about the evidence for using external cephalic version, or the hands-to-belly procedure, for to turn breech babies. But what is the evidence for using other methods, like moxibustion or accupuncture, to turn a breech baby? Is moxibustion junk science or does it actually work?

I recently wrote a guest article on the evidence for using moxibustion (plus accupuncture and positioning) to turn breech babies for Science & Sensibility. Moxibustion is a form of traditional Chinese medicine in which a burning herb– Artemesia vulgaria— is held close to the outer edge of the little toe.

What did I find when I looked at the evidence for this treatment?

To read the whole article, click here.

In summary, I found that:

  • Evidence suggests that moxibustion—when combined with either acupuncture or postural techniques—is safe and increases your chances of turning a breech baby
  • We still don’t know for sure which kind of moxibustion method works best for turning breech babies (timing during pregnancy, number of sessions, length of sessions, etc.). However it appears that using moxibustion twice per day for two weeks (during weeks 33-35 of pregnancy) will work for 1 out of every 8 women
  • Women who are interested in using Chinese medicine (moxibustion and acupuncture) to help turn a breech baby may want to consult a licensed acupuncturist who specializes in the treatment of pregnant women.


Cardini F. & Weixin H. (1998). Moxibustion for correction of breech presentation: A randomized controlled trial. JAMA 280(18), 1580-1584. Free full text, click here.

Coyle ME, Smith CA, & Peat B. 2012. Cephalic version by moxibustion for breech presentation. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 5. Art. No: CD003928. Click here.

Vas J, Aranda-Regules JM, Modesto M, et al. (2013). Acupuncture Medicine 31: 31-38. Click here.

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