Moxibustion–Moxie for Spinning Babies

Moxibustion Sticks
Last week while visiting our expecting daughter, we learned about moxibustion firsthand. A traditional Chinese medical therapy closely related to acupuncture, moxibustion involves using the mugwort herb (not Harry Potter territory) to supplement the benefits of acupuncture.  Mugwort is sold as black-colored cigar-shaped sticks, not unlike chubby incense. While Asian medical specialists actually burned the mugwort onto the patient’s skin, the Californian way of doing this is to wave the burning mugwort as close to the acupuncture point as possible without actually making contact.
Why, you may ask, would a pregnant woman be seeking acupuncture and moxibustion? Since our daughter’s baby-to-be is in breech position, moxibustion is believed to flip and “spin the baby”.   The latest medical trend among some San Franciscan obstetricians is to refer patients to acupuncturists who use pressure points (which are believed to stimulate circulation through the pelvic and uterine regions) as the target points for encouraging increased blood flow for women whose babies-to-be are in breech position. The acupressure point for the pelvis and uterus is the pinkie toe on each foot (!) We lit the mugwort cigars until there was a deep red ember glowing, and for twenty minutes we circled that pinkie, (see the technique on a You Tube clip),  circling and circling around that pinkie, not quite touching  our daughter’s skin. We concentrated but sometimes she retracted her toe when it became too red.
It isn’t hype if it works for the women who are “moxibustioned”.  The believers are on the Internet–look at the number of websites.  (See one example at As for me, I am waiting for the verdict–the jury is still out (see research article  here) — but the moxie of trying to spin a baby-in-utero with mugwort was an experience I am very happy not to have missed!


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