Moxa Treatment Safe and Effective for Turning Breech Babies

Research from Spain: moxa to turn a breech babyResearchers in Spain have concluded a large study which shows that the traditional acupuncturist’s technique of using moxa to turn a breech baby, is both safe and effective. (This is the burning of a stick of dried herb over a specific acupuncture point, in order to warm and stimulate the area.)

In a multi-centre, randomised, controlled trial, 406 low-risk pregnant women with a baby diagnosed by hospital ultrasound at 32 weeks as breech presentation, were assigned to one of three groups: moxibustion at the traditional point on the little toe, plus usual care; moxibustion at a sham point on the big toe, plus usual care; just usual care alone. The women were gathered from 58 local health centres across one region, and after instruction, were treated at home by a family member. Treatment with moxa was given for twenty minutes per day for two weeks; treatment was suspended and the patient’s midwife contacted, if she felt the baby had moved significantly. The treatment was found very acceptable, with only 4.2% of patients declining to take part.

In the group which received traditional moxibustion, 58% of the full-term presentations were cephalic (normal, head-down position for delivery), compared to 43% in the sham group, and 45% in the usual care group. No severe adverse effects were observed. The authors conclude that moxibustion is effective and safe to correct non-vertex presentation when used between 32 and 34?weeks of gestation. It is well-accepted by women and the straightforward nature of the procedure means it can be easily applied at home. Moxibustion therefore represents a treatment option that should be considered to achieve version of the non-vertex fetus.

(Using Moxibustion in Primary Healthcare to Correct Non-Vertex Presentation: A Multicentre Randomised Controlled Trial. Acupuncture in Medicine, on-line 18 December 2012.)