Morning Sickness

  • Acupressure, acupuncture or electro-acupuncture reduce nausea and vomiting in pregnancyA meta-analysis has examined the effects of various methods for stimulating acupuncture points for the prevention of nausea and vomiting in pregnant women. The authors identified 14 eligible trials published over the last 16 years, involving a total of 1615 women and using either acupressure, acupuncture or electro-acupuncture.

    After the treatment, compared with controls, all methods reduced the proportion of nausea by more than 50% and vomiting by around 40%. Electro-acupuncture and acupressure (applied by finger pressure or wristband) reduced nausea and vomiting. However, acupuncture did not show an effect. The authors advise caution in interpreting the results, as the number of acupuncture trials included was limited.

    Helmreich, Shiao, Dune (2006) Meta-analysis of acu-stimulation effects on nausea and vomiting in pregnant women. Explore (NY) Sep-Oct; 2(5):412-21.

  • Acupuncture is effective and safe for nausea and vomiting in early pregnancySmith et al. published two articles from their research on nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. The first looked at the effectiveness and the second at the safety of acupuncture treatment in early pregnancy.

    The researchers’ objective was to compare between
    1. traditional acupuncture treatment,
    2. acupuncture at Neiguan P-6 only,
    3. sham acupuncture and
    4. no acupuncture.

    At the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide, Australia, 593 women (less than 14 weeks pregnant) suffering from nausea and vomiting were randomised into 4 groups and received a treatment weekly.

    The acupuncture group, in which points were chosen according to traditional acupuncture diagnosis, received two 20 minutes acupuncture treatments in the first week followed by one weekly treatment for the next four weeks.

    The sham acupuncture group were needled at points close to but not on acupuncture points. All treatment groups received treatments with the same frequency and from the same acupuncturist.

    The outcomes compared the levels of nausea, dry retching, vomiting, and health status. When compared to the no-treatment group, the traditional acupuncture group reported less nausea throughout the study and less dry retching from the second week.

    The Neiguan P-6 group reported less nausea from the second week and less dry retching from the third week. The sham acupuncture group reported less nausea and dry retching from the third week.

    So while all three acupuncture groups reported improvement with nausea and dry retching, it was the traditional acupuncture group that had the fastest response.

    Patients in traditional acupuncturegroup also reported improvement in five aspects of general health status (vitality, social function, physical function, mental health and emotional role function) compared to improvement in two aspects with both the NeiguanP-6 and sham acupuncture groups. In the no-treatment group there was improvement in only one aspect.

    Although there were no differences in regards to vomiting among the treatment groups the authors speculated that more frequent treatments might have produced greater benefits.

    To assess the safety of acupuncture in early pregnancy data was collected on perinatal outcome, congenital abnormalities, pregnancy complications and problems of the newborn. No differences were found between study groups in the incidence of these outcomes suggesting that there are no serious adverse effects from the use of acupuncture treatment in early pregnancy.

    Conclusion: acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment for women who experience nausea and dry retching in early pregnancy.

    Smith, Crowther, Beilby (2002a) Acupuncture to treat nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy: a randomized trial. Birth, Mar; 29(1): 1-9. Smith, Crowther, Beilby (2002b) Pregnancy outcome following women’s participation in a randomised controlled trial of acupuncture to treat nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy. Complement Ther Med, Jun; 10(2):78-83.

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