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Acupuncture and Morning Sickness

Q: Can acupuncture help with the nausea and vomiting of morning sickness?

Dr. Donnica:
There is clear evidence that needle acupuncture is efficacious for adult postoperative and chemotherapy nausea and vomiting. Many practitioners use it for nausea of pregnancy as well.  A recent randomized study of 33 women with hyperemesis from Sweden in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management (10/00) showed that pregnant women who experience severe vomiting appear to recover more quickly when they receive acupuncture in addition to standard treatment.

The women with hyperemesis received standard medical treatment, plus two days of either active manual acupuncture or placebo acupuncture. Active acupuncture consisted of deep needle insertion about 2 inches above the wrist crease on both arms at the traditional PC6 point; placebo acupuncture involved superficial needle insertion 4 inches above the wrist on both forearms. The severity of nausea and the frequency of vomiting both decreased more quickly with active acupuncture than with placebo administration. After two active acupuncture treatments, only 7 of 17 women were still vomiting, compared with 12 of 16 women who received placebo acupuncture. According the study authors, the effects of active acupuncture could be seen "often within minutes of stimulation."

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Created: 11/15/2000  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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