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Related TermsHyperemesis Gravidarum Morning Sickness
Principal Proposed Natural Treatments
Other Proposed Natural Treatments
Nausea afflicts the majority of women during the first trimester of pregnancy. However, this is also the precise period in which drug therapy is most worrisome, due to the extreme vulnerability of the fetus at that time. For this reason, conventional medicine has to some extent welcomed alternative medicine’s quest for safe, natural treatment options.
For natural treatments relevant to other aspects of pregnancy, see the articles on Pregnancy Support, Breastfeeding Support, Preeclampsia, and Herbs and Supplements to Avoid in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding.
Vitamin B 6
For many years, conventional practitioners have recommended vitamin B 6 supplements to treat morning sickness. In 1995, a large double-blind, placebo-controlled studyvalidated this use.1 In this trial, a total of 342 pregnant women were given placebo or 30 mg of vitamin B 6 daily. Participants then graded their symptoms by noting the severity of their nausea and recording the number of vomiting episodes. The women in the B 6 group experienced significantly less nausea than the placebo group, suggesting that regular use of B 6 can be helpful for morning sickness. However, despite the benefits for nausea, vomiting episodes were not significantly reduced.
At this dose (30 mg daily), vitamin B 6 is believed to be entirely safe. For more information, including dosage and safety issues, see the full Vitamin B6 article.
Ginger is a nausea remedy recommended by many physicians, as well as by traditional healers from a number of countries. In 2001, a relatively well-designed double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 70 pregnant women evaluated the effectiveness of ginger for morning sickness.2 Participants received either placebo or 250 mg of powdered ginger 3 times daily for a period of 4 days. The results showed that ginger significantly reduced nausea and vomiting. No significant side effects occurred.
One study of 138 women and another of 291 women found ginger equally effective for morning sickness as vitamin B 6.15,16 However, a third study of 70 women found ginger to be somewhat better than vitamin B 6.22 None these studies used a placebo group.
For more information, including dosage and safety issues, see the full article on Ginger.
Acupuncture and Acupressure
Several studies have evaluated the potential benefits for morning sickness of treatment on a single acupuncture point—P6—traditionally thought to be effective for relief of nausea and vomiting. This point is located on the inside of the forearm, about 2 inches above the wrist crease. Most positive trials have investigated the effects of pressure on this point (acupressure), rather than needling. The most common means used involve a wristband with a pearl-sized bead in it, situated over P6. It exerts pressure by itself while it is worn, and the user can also press on it for extra stimulation.
In general, acupressure has shown good results.20For example, a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 97 women that was reported in 2001 found evidence that wristband acupressure may help relieve symptoms of morning sickness.5Participants wore either a real wristband or a phony one that appeared identical. Both real and fake acupressure caused noticeable improvement in more than half of the participants. However, women using the real wristband showed significantly greater improvement. Benefits were also reported the same year in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 60 women.6
These results are consistent with previous studies that also found benefit.7,8,10,17Furthermore, a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 60 pregnant women found that 10 minutes of self-applied manual acupressure on either P6 or a sham point 4 times daily improved symptoms.9However, two studies failed to find benefit for severe morning sickness.18-19And a review of 8 trials involving over 1,200 pregnant women found no evidence that acupressure or acupuncture reduced nausea and vomiting.23 One study, though, of 230 pregnant women did find that nausea improved over time with the use of electrostimulation, which involves sending a mild electrical current to acupuncture points.
For more information, including safety issues, see the full Acupuncture article.
Last reviewedAugust 2013by EBSCO CAM Review Board
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.