Acupuncture Continuing Education

Acupuncture and Ginger Treat Morning Sickness

The New England Journal of Medicine recently published an article citing that acupuncture and ginger are potentially beneficial to pregnant women suffering from nausea and vomiting. Half of all pregnant women in the USA experience nausea and vomiting during the first trimester of pregnancy. About 35 percent of women experience moderate levels of nausea and vomiting. Hyperemesis Gravidarum, extremely severe morning sickness, affects approximately 1 percent of pregnant women. This raises concerns for electrolyte depletion, weight loss, and fluid loss.

Pharmaceuticals and Vitamins
The study notes that 10 percent of women with nausea and vomiting during pregnancy receive pharmaceutical medications and vitamin therapy. Antihistamines and prokinetic agents such as metoclopramide are often prescribed. Peripheral neuropathy due to complications from hyperemesis may be treatable with vitamin B6 and B12 supplementation and encephalopathy may be treated with thiamine (vitamin B1) supplementation. The report cites a study showing that women taking a multivitamin are less likely to develop nausea and vomiting.

Acupuncture and Ginger
The publication notes that ,“In one randomized trial involving 33 patients with hyperemesis gravidarum, acupuncture reduced symptoms, as compared with sham acupuncture….” The author also notes, “In a randomized trial of the ReliefBand, which emits an electrical current to stimulate the P6 acupuncture point, patients who were randomly assigned to the active device, as compared with those assigned to a sham device, were reported to have significantly less nausea and vomiting and were more likely to gain weight.” The author adds, “Randomized, double-blind trials have provided support for a benefit of ginger in the management of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy.”\


Jennifer R. Niebyl, M.D. . Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy. N Engl J Med 2010; 363:1544-1550. From the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City.