Guidelines for using Moxa

Moxibustion Therapy

Source: “The Essential guide to Acupuncture in Pregnancy and Childbirth”
by Debra Betts © 2010

Guidelines for using Moxa.

Moxa is a plant (Artemisia argyi Folium) that is used as a heat source to stimulate acupuncture points. Although acupuncture is better known in the West, moxibustion has also been used in traditional treatments for over 2000 years in China and is in fact the second part of the name for acupuncture in the Chinese language (zhen jiu, literally “needle moxa”).

The moxa you have been given as part of your treatment is in the form of a moxa stick and has been compressed into a cigar-like roll that makes it ideal for use at home. Before using moxa you will need to prepare the following:
A cigarette lighter or candle.

A small ceramic or glass dish to place any ash in that may form on the moxa stick during treatment

A small towel to place under the area being treated in case any ash is dropped.

A glass screw-top jar to extinguish the moxa when the treatment is finished.

How to use the moxa stick

Simply light one end with a cigarette lighter or hold over the candle flame. It may take several minutes to light correctly but when the stick is correctly lit, you will be able to hold the lit end two to three centimeters from the back of your hand and feel a pleasant radiating warmth.

Hold the lit end of the stick over the area to be treated, maintaining a distance of at least two to three centimeters so that there is never any direct contact with the skin.

The moxa stick is then moved slowly over the area being treated, this will begin to feel pleasantly warm.

When using to turn a breech or posterior positioned baby, the therapeutic time for moxa use is 20 minutes for each acupuncture point. During this time the moxa is briefly lifted away from the point Zhiyin BL- 67 (found on the outside corner of the nail of the little toe) each time it becomes hot before resuming treatment (the pecking technique).

When used to treat other acupuncture points the moxa stick can be applied for five to Any ash that forms on the end of the stick can be gently brushed off by using the edge of the small dish, so that the moxa stick remains hot.

If you suspect there is no longer any heat coming off the moxa stick, check by holding it two to three centimeters away from the back of your hand. Re-light if there is no radiating warmth.
Never touch the lighted end of a moxa stick even if it no longer appears to be glowing.

When treatment has finished place the moxa stick in a glass jar with the lid screwed on firmly so that the moxa stick is deprived of oxygen and cannot continue to burn.

The moxa stick can then be re-lit for repeated treatments according to the instructions you received from your acupuncturist or midwife.

Natural Ways to Turn a Malposition or Breech Baby

Around 32-36 weeks the baby usually will settle down into a head down position in the pelvis.  The best position for the baby to be in is a ‘well-flexed anterior position’. If you find out that your baby is not in an optimal position there are natural solutions to help achieve this.Acupuncture:   The optimum time for treating a malposition baby is at 34 weeks, but babies can turn any time after that. 

Women who wish to help with positioning will come in and we take a full case history to understand why this is happening from a Traditional Chinese Medicine point of view.  From there we will do an acupuncture treatment usually with the use of moxabustion. 

Generally, the body needs more ‘Yang’ to active activity for the baby to turn.  I use a herb called moxa on an acupuncture point to increase yang to help facilitate the position.  After the treatment, I send the women home with moxa and instructions to continue the treatment for 10 days. 

There have been studies that show the effectiveness of this alone in turning a baby.


Along with Acupuncture homeopathic remedies can be magic for turning a baby.  As I am a classical homeopath and acupuncturist, I am always thinking of which remedy would be best for each person.  Common homeopathic remedies to turn a breech baby are:

Pulsatilla: Probably the most well-known for breech.  Women who need this remedy are generally not thirsty, like the window open when sleeping and have changeable moods. Kali-Carb:  A keynote of this remedy is waking from 2-4 Am.  Also, in this remedy baby is generally posterior.

Viscum Alb: If Pulsatilla fails to act – try this one.

Nat Mur:  If the baby is breeched and the mother has low amniotic fluid with lots of dryness – dry chapped lip.  Craving for Salt.

If one of these remedies stand out try a dose of a 200c potency and wait 12 hours.  In 12 hours take one more dose.  It is however best to consult with a classical homeopath to see what remedies would be the best fit. 

A fantastic resource is the spinning babies’ website: