Alleviating Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy

            Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy (more commonly known as morning sickness) usually occurs between 6 and 12 weeks and goes through to 20 weeks. These symptoms can persist longer than 20 weeks in 20% of women. The prevalence of nausea is 50-80% and of vomiting/retching is around 50% of all pregnant women1.

            A review of randomised controlled trials and systematic reviews on acupuncture in pregnant women have found evidence of acupuncture being particularly effective in treating nausea in pregnancy, and further found it can also be effective in the treatment of back and pelvic pain, correcting breech presentation and pain relief during labour2.

            Not only has Acupuncture been found to be effective in morning sickness, but so too has Acupressure3,4. Acupressure is something that Acupuncturists can show their patients to do at home. Simple techniques such as massaging a point called Pericardium 6, can help alleviate the nausea experienced by many pregnant women5.

When the vomiting and nausea are so severe, it can result in Hyperemesis gravidum. It is a disorder characterised by severe and constant nausea and vomiting that can cause loss of more than 5% of body weight, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, acidosis, or ketosis6. Many studies have found Acupuncture to be an effective treatment of Hyperemesis gravidum6-9.

One study has also compared the effectiveness of Acupuncture treatment to pharmacological intervention (metoclopramide/vitamin B12) in the treatment of hyperemesis gravidarum. They found both treatments to be just as effective in reducing vomiting episodes as well as reduced intensity of nausea, but found Acupuncture to be more effective than drugs in improving functioning. Reports from this study suggest that the psychosocial variables could represent a further advantage of Acupuncture treatment9.

            Acupuncture has been found to be a safe treatment of nausea and vomiting in pregnant women with no serious side effects10. So don’t put up with nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, have it treated by a qualified Acupuncturist.

Simon Want

Doctor of Chinese Medicine

BHlthSc(Acu), BBiomedSc, MAppSc(ChinHerbMed)


  1. Van den Heuvel, E, Goossens, H, Vanderhaegen, H, Sun, H & 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 & Alternative Medicine, vol. 16, no. 13.
  2. Smith, C & Cochrane, S 2009, ‘Does acupuncture have a place as an adjunct treatment during pregnancy? A review of randomised controlled trials and systematic reviews’, Birth, vol. 36, no. 3, p. 246-253.
  3. Werntoft, E & Dykes, A 2001, ‘Effect of acupressure on nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. A randomised, placebo-controlled, pilot study’, Journal of Reproductive Medicine, vol. 46, no. 9, p. 835-839.
  4. Can Gurkan, O & Arslan, H 2008, ‘Effect of acupressure on nausea and vomiting during pregnancy’, Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, vol. 14, no. 1, p. 46-52.
  5. Habek, D, Barbir, A, Habek, J, Janculiak, D & Bobic-Vukovic, M 2004, ‘Success of acupuncture and acupressure of the Pc 6 acupoint in the treatment of hyperemesis gravidarum’, Research in complementary and natural classical medicine, vol. 11, no. 1, p. 20-23.
  6. Shin, H, Song, Y & Seo, S 2007, ‘Effect of Nei-Guan point (P6) acupressure on ketonuria levels, nausea and vomiting in women with hyperemesis gravidarum’, Journal of Advanced Nursing, vol. 59, no. 5, p. 510-519.
  7. Mao, Z & Liang, C 2009, ‘Observation on therapeutic effect of acupuncture on hyperemesis gravidarum’, Chinese Acupuncture & Moxibustion, vol. 29, no. 12, p. 973-976.
  8. Zhang, H 2005, ‘Observation on therapeutic effect of acupuncture and moxibustion on hyperemesis gravidarum’, Chinese Acupuncture & Moxibustion, vol. 25, no. 7, p. 469-470.
  9. Neri, I, Allais, G, Schiapparelli, P, Blasi, I, Benedetto, C & Facchinetti, F 2005, ‘Acupuncture versus pharmacological approach to reduce Hyperemesis gravidarum discomfort’, Minerva Gynecology, vol. 57, no. 4, p. 471-475.
  10. Smith, C, Crowther, C & Beilby, J 2002, ‘Pregnancy outcome following women’s participation in a randomised controlled trial of acupuncture to treat nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy’, Complementary Therapies in Medicine, vol. 10, no. 2, p. 78-83.