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January 2004 [Volume 3, Issue 1]

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In this issue of To Your Health:

Acupuncture Puts Breech Babies in the Right Position

Throughout most of pregnancy, a woman's uterus has enough space to allow the fetus to move comfortably and change position. By the 36th week of pregnancy, most fetuses turn into a head-down, or "vertex" position, which is the normal and safest position for birth. In about 4 percent of all pregnancies, however, the baby does not move to the vertex position. This results in a breech presentation, in which a baby's feet, legs or buttocks - rather than the head - are the first to come out during delivery. Breech deliveries may lead to more complications during childbirth than normal deliveries, and often require a cesarean section to be performed, adding thousands of dollars in medical costs and increasing the risk of harm to the mother.

In this randomized, controlled study, published in Fetal Diagnosis and Therapy, researchers in Croatia assessed the value of using acupuncture to move babies from the breech presentation to the vertex presentation. Sixty-seven pregnant women, all with breech presentations, were enrolled in the study and assigned to either an acupuncture group or a control group. Women in the acupuncture group received manual acupuncture at the zhiyin point (Urinary Bladder 67) for 30 minutes a day. Treatment was delivered during and after the 34th week of pregnancy; infants were monitored using a cardiotocograph to monitor any changes in position.

Results: Of the 34 women in the acupuncture group, 26 (76.4 percent) had their fetuses move to the vertex presentation prior to delivery. Only 15 of 33 women in the control group (45.4 percent) had their fetuses spontaneously correct to the vertex position. Based on the results, the researchers concluded: "We believe that AP (acupuncture) correction of fetal malpresentation is a relatively simple, efficacious and inexpensive method associated with a lower percentage of operatively completed deliveries, which definitely reflects in improved parameters of vital and perinatal statistics."


Habek D, Cerkez Habek J, Jagust M. Acupuncture conversion of fetal breech presentation. Fetal Diagnosis and Therapy November-December 2003;18(6):418-21.

Herb of the Month: Spirulina

Although not strictly an herbal remedy, spirulina is being used increasingly by acupuncturists and other health care providers to improve a patient's overall health and wellness. Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae that grows in areas with warm, alkaline water. There are several species of spirulina; the two most popular are spirulina maxima (which is cultivated in Mexico) and spirulina platensis (which is cultivated in California).

Spirulina is a rich source of nutrients, especially protein. Sixty-two percent of its composition consists of nonessential amino acids; it is also rich in vitamins, beta-carotene, zinc, manganese, copper, iron, selenium, and essential fatty acids such as GLA. Because of its high nutrient content, and because the cellular walls of spirulina are made up of complex proteins and sugars instead of cellulose, it is easily digested by the body.

Spirulina is currently being studied to determine its effects on a number of clinical conditions. One recent study indicated that calcium spirulina, a component of spirulina, could protect the body against the HIV virus. Animal studies have determined that another component of spirulina, C-phycocyanin, can reduce inflammation in the colon. Other clinical trials suggest that spirulina can inhibit the growth of some forms of cancers and can reduce the risk of oral cancer in people who chew tobacco.

A standard dosage of spirulina is 4-6 tablets (500 mg) per day. It is readily available in pill or powder form at most health food stores. To date, there are no known side-effects or interactions reported with spirulina. However, women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should consult with a licensed health care provider before taking spirulina supplements, as should any patient interested in improving his or her health.

To learn more about the benefits of herbal medicine, visit


  1. Chamorro G, Salazar M, Favila L, Bourges H. Pharmacology and toxicology of spirulina alga. Rev Invest Clin 1996;48:389-399. Abstract.
  2. Mathew B, Sankaranarayanan R, Nair PP, et al. Evaluation of chemoprevention of oral cancer with spirulina fusiformis. Nutr Cancer 1995;24:197-202.
  3. Romay C, Armesto J, Remirez D, Gonzalez R, Ledon N, Garcia I. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of C-phycocyanin from blue-green algae. Inflamm Res 1998;47:36-41.

Acupuncture Q & A: This Month's Highlights from the "Ask an Acupuncturist" Forum

The "Ask an Acupuncturist" forum provides a place for interested parties to ask questions about acupuncture and Oriental medicine and have them answered by a licensed acupuncturist. This month's questions:

Question #1: I am an avid tennis player and have had chronic minor knee pain after matches for several years. After a match in May, my knee was swollen. I had it drained and had a cortisone shot and it was fine for a couple of months. I have since had more swelling after matches but no real pain, just a sort of uncomfortable feel and a feeling of something rubbing wrong. I had an MRI, which showed what might have been a small meniscus tear. I do have tightness and small discomfort in the inside of knee running from knee and down for about six inches. Do you thing acupuncture might help? The doctor said I could rest it for a month or two or have arthroscopic surgery to determine the problem.

Answer: Acupuncture has been able to relieve similar symptoms. Your case needs to be examined, and then have a series of seven to 10 treatments. You will then find out how much help it will be for you.

Question #2: How effective is acupuncture with the treatment of psoriasis?

Answer: There are several approaches to the treatment of psoriasis with Chinese medicine. There is acupuncture, and Chinese herbal medicine therapy. Results are mixed, but most often symptoms can be improved. You should talk to an acupuncturist about your particular symptoms. You can use the Acupuncturist Locator button on to find one in your area.

Have a question about acupuncture and Oriental medicine? Visit's "Ask an Acupuncturist" forum at

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All Rights Reserved, Acupuncture Today, 2004.