Moxibustion is turning babies upside-down!

by Gord Grant PhD, RAc

Moxibustion, the therapeutic burning of a special herb near or on a patient, is an ancient oriental practice that goes back thousands of years – it may even predate acupuncture!  It seems like a shamanistic and ritualistic practice at first, but science has turned this notion around, or rather, upside down – literally! Recent rigorous reviews of clinical research (Cochrane Reviews…see link below) have demonstrated that moxibustion performed on a pregnant mom’s little toe (acupoint BL67) may help for turning her breech baby head-down. The effects were significant when the moms were also getting acupuncture, compared to no treatment. Can you believe it!?



Treatments were in the 28wk – 37wk stage of pregnancy, with daily or twice weekly moxibustion applications. Results show about a 30% better turning rate of the fetus to head down position by labour compared to no treatment. This is a great example of an alternative practice that is used most often to support health routinely as opposed to intervene with a critical problem – but indeed it gets attention when it addresses a medical issue. Regardless, here moxibustion works naturally without force or risks, gently through the body’s own mechanisms  of adaptation, to help rectify a complex matter that has eluded mainstream medical practices – until recently! Now at my clinic we are getting obstetricians pregnancyreferring  their patients to us for moxibustion, since this new research has come forward. Indeed though, in China moxibustion has traditionally been used for problems in pregnancy, but it was and still is used routinely for many other conditions and just supporting basic health.

In China, the average person would use it at home daily to maintain health and vitality – for longevity!  At ATP we are trying to revive this practice.  The most popular point to use moxibustion on every day, was Si San Li (or “three extra miles” of energy) just below the knee. When people get moxibustion done on this point, they often report that it feels like a flow of heat going right down to their toes. And yes, it seems to restore circulation to cold feet!  This is likely the most important acupoint of the whole body, and it is associated with immunity, balancing digestion, and a strong whole body relaxation response.

Cochrane Summary literature review reference

Read more about moxibustion on our website here