I bet you didn’t know that Chinese Medicine can…


Stop shaking your head – it’s true!  Moreover, the classic “mal-positioned fetus” treatment involves NO needles.  It simply entails moxabustion, the burning of mugwort, on the pregnant woman’s pinky toes.  Sounds like something taught at Hogwarts School of Wizardry, doesn’t it?!

Let me break it down for you.  Moxa is a form of mugwort, an herb found growing wild around the globe.  The mugwort is dried and ground until it forms a spongy, moss-like texture, which can then be rolled up like a giant cigar, stuck over the handle of an acupuncture needle to send heat into the body, or balled into little “cones” or “rice grains” and burned directly on the skin.

Mugwort is used in Chinese Medicine to increase circulation of qi and blood, stop certain types of bleeding, ease pain, and reduce swelling.  Moxa also has a unique affinity for the uterus, and is thus used to treat many gynecological disorders, including turning a malpositioned fetus, be it breeched, transverse, or facing the abdomen.

A moxa cone

The acupuncture point used to turn a fetus is UB 67, the last point on the Urinary Bladder meridian.  This is the longest meridian on the body, and covers a lot of ground.  It starts at the eye, wraps up and around the head, and continues down the back and legs, ending next to the pinky toenail, at UB 67.

To stimulate UB 67 with moxa, I prefer using moxa “cones”.  I pinch off small portions of the mossy herb, quickly roll it between my fingers, place it on the acupuncture point, and touch a lit incense stick to it.  As the cone begins to burn, I ask the patient to tell me when they feel the warmth, then pluck it off once the heat is felt.  This is repeated multiple times on both pinky toes for 15 to 20 minutes, twice daily.  Once I’ve shown the expectant mommy how to use moxa, she and her partner can continue treatment at home.  The technique tends to be soothing for the mother, and they often report increased fetal movement during and afterwards.

Using moxabustion to right a breeched fetus is effective roughly 80% of the time, and can be started as early as week 28 of the pregnancy.  I’ve had the most success with mothers between 30-34 weeks, when the baby still has a bit of wiggle room.

I don’t know about you, but the fact that one can warm up a pregnant woman’s pinky toes, and her baby will flip in utero simply blows my mind.  I probably wouldn’t believe it, had I not seen it myself.  Chinese Medicine is far more than a means of managing pain.  It’s a fascinating tool that helps us achieve the level of health and balance that our bodies are constantly working towards.

For more about Nature Cures Clinic’s Acupuncture throughout pregnancy, give us a call at 503-287-4970.