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  • Writer's pictureHelen Lucy Reid

An introduction to moxibustion and moxa for turning breech babies

Updated: Jul 23, 2023

This post let's you know what moxibustion is, the evidence for it's safe use to turn breech babies and how you can enquire about treatment.

A moxa stick is mouldering over a patient's little toe

Women with a breech presentation may seek treatment with moxibustion from 32 to 38 weeks. The technique involves holding moxa sticks (1.5cm in diameter and 20cm in length) over an acupuncture point on your little toe. Treatment regimens vary and there is no consensus on the best regimen, but moxibustion may be administered for 15–20 minutes daily for up to 10 days. After trying moxibustion for 10 days you will be reviewed again in the clinic. You will be offered supportive acupuncture treatments alongside receiving moxibustion.

What is moxibustion?

Moxibustion involves the burning of the moxa herb (artemisia vulgaris or mugwart) close to the skin at the tip of your fifth toe (an acupoint point called Bladder 67 (Bl67), Chinese name Zhiyin).

Dried moxa is packed together tightly into sticks which are smouldered to hover over the skin. The smoke is pungent - but not unpleasant; and the tip of the stick is warm - but not uncomfortable.

Smokeless charcoaled moxa sticks can be used to make treatment easier, as they are less pungent and emit very little smoke.

The evidence for moxa for turning breech babies

When acupuncturists talk about evidence, it should be caveated so you are clear about how much weight to give it. I wrote a blog post about weighing up evidence here.

Some research suggests that moxa for turning breech babies may be more successful if you:

  • combine moxa treatments with acupuncture (source)

  • combine the use of moxa with other non-acupuncture techniques (source)

  • involve others in the administration of the moxa (source)

  • have given birth before (source)

Having said all that, nothing is guaranteed; and for whatever reason your baby may not turn. However, in my experience, woman who receive moxa and acupuncture treatments often find the experience very relaxing and report that it helps them feel calm and supported in the lead up to birth.


There have been no reported side-effects of using moxibustion on mothers or babies (source and another source).

Moxa is a smouldered herb, that means that sensible precautions should be taken to avoid any fire risk and to avoid burns; all patients receive a full demonstration and are given instructions for safe home use.

How to book in

Send me a message to ask about treatment, I will then send you a health questionnaire to complete online to check it is safe to treat you and your baby. You can also discuss with your medical provider that you are considering moxibustion and acupuncture.

We will book your first treatment and consultation with a follow up treatment 10 days later.

You will be given a demo and written instructions, together with moxa sticks (either smoke-free or smokey!) to continue treatment at home during sessions.

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