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Acupuncture for Morning Sickness

Morning sickness—with or without vomiting—is a hallmark symptom of early pregnancy, affecting most women for some portion of their first trimester. For some moms to be, the condition persists well into the second, and for an unlucky few, it can be severe enough to make eating and drinking dangerously difficult at a time when it’s important to stay well-nourished and hydrated. Regardless of how long it lingers or how severe the sickness, daily bouts with nausea are an uncomfortable source of distress. 

Fortunately, acupuncture can be a great help, and there are numerous scientific studies over the years to demonstrate its empirical efficacy. Regular acupuncture has been shown to significantly reduce nausea and vomiting, and can even be more effective than certain antiemetic medications. A bonus with acupuncture—no negative side effects! One to three visits per week is recommended, depending on severity. Companion modalities like moxa, heat therapy and ear seeds are also very soothing and may be used to enhance the treatment. 

There are a number of things that can be done at home which may help in between acupuncture appointments. One is applying acupressure to a pair of well-known anti-nausea acupuncture points (pericardium 6). These points are located on the inner aspect of each wrist, approximately 2-3 finger widths up from the wrist crease. Some women find the use of elastic “sea band” bracelets to be helpful here. These are sold at most pharmacies to curb motion sickness. Any practitioner at Naturna can help you precisely locate this point for maximum effectiveness. 

Other tips for calming nausea include avoiding big changes in blood sugar by keeping meals small, frequent and easy to digest. If you’re on the go, we recommend carrying healthy snacks like seeds and nuts with you to graze on throughout the day. This can help maintain a stream of dense nutrients and provide necessary calories. Sipping fluids throughout the day, particularly ginger or peppermint tea, can soothe an unsettled stomach and help with hydration. 

Early pregnancy often coincides with a heightened sensitivity to smell. It is normal to find certain strong odors are triggers for nausea. If you discover any for yourself, obviously avoid them to the extent you can. A remedy that works for some is countering the offensive experience with a whiff of peppermint essential oil, which has cooling and clearing properties. You can keep a scented tissue or handkerchief handy to see if this works for you. Vitamins B1 and B6 are also shown to reduce pregnancy nausea, so be sure you’re taking a good prenatal vitamin with appropriate levels of each.

Remember that every pregnancy is different because every physiology has unique nuances, so it may take a little trial and error to find the things that help you get through this transition. At Naturna, we’re happy to help.

 

References

Bustos, M., Venkataramanan, R., & Caritis, S. (2017). Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy – What’s new?. Autonomic neuroscience : basic & clinical202, 62–72. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.autneu.2016.05.002

Carlsson, C. P., Axemo, P., Bodin, A., Carstensen, H., Ehrenroth, B., Madegård-Lind, I., & Navander, C. (2000). Manual acupuncture reduces hyperemesis gravidarum: a placebo-controlled, randomized, single-blind, crossover study. Journal of pain and symptom management20(4), 273–279. doi: 10.1016/s0885-3924(00)00185-8

Dundee J. W. (1990). Belfast experience with P6 acupuncture antiemesis. The Ulster Medical Journal, 59(1), 63–70.

Sahakian, V., Rouse, D., Sipes, S., Rose, N., & Niebyl, J. (1991). Vitamin B6 is effective therapy for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy: a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study. Obstetrics and gynecology78(1), 33–36.

Smith C., Crowther C., Beilby J. Acupuncture to treat nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy: a randomized controlled trial. (2002). Birth, 29(1), 1–9. doi: 10.1046/j.1523-536x.2002.00149.x.

Van den Heuvel, E., Goossens, M., Vanderhaegen, H., Sun, H. X., & Buntinx, F. (2016). Effect of acustimulation on nausea and vomiting and on hyperemesis in pregnancy: a systematic review of Western and Chinese literature. BMC complementary and alternative medicine16, 13. doi: 10.1186/s12906-016-0985-4

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