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Morning Sickness - How Acupuncture Can Help?

Morning sickness is nausea with or without vomiting that usually occurs during the first trimester of pregnancy. However, morning sickness can happen any time of the day or night. For some women, morning sickness lingers throughout pregnancy. Nausea and vomiting during pregnancy usually pass by week 14, after which most women experience a renewed sense of energy and well-being.

Morning sickness is mainly caused b​y the increased hormone levels of pregnancy, fluctuating of blood sugars, or deficiency of vitamin B and zinc. It can affect any pregnant woman, but it more likely affect those who had experienced nausea or vomiting from motion sickness, migraine, some tastes or smells before pregnancy, or pregnant with twins or other multiples.

How Acupuncture Can Help?

Acupuncture treatments 1-2 times a week have been shown to alleviate nausea and vomiting. Depending on your specific presentation of symptoms, the acupuncturist will select the most effective points to relieve the nausea. The most commonly used points for nausea and morning sickness include the following:

Pericardium 6 (PC6) – Nei guan - is located in approximately three finger-breaths above the transverse crease of the wrist, between the tendons of muscle palmaris longs and muscle flexor carpi radialis. This is the most effectiveness point for nausea of all causes, and it is commonly used for self-treatment with acupressure.

Stomach 36 (ST 36) – Zu san li - commonly used to calm the stomach and relieve nausea. This point is located four finger-breadths beneath the kneecap, one finger-breadth from the anterior border of the tibia. This point is very effective for all of the stomach disorder and is useful to strengthen digestion.

GallBladder 34 (GB 34) – Yang ling quan – another effective acupuncture point for alleviate patterns of morning sickness due to stress cause nausea. The acupuncture point is located on the lateral side of the lower leg, just below and in front of the head of the fibula bone.

Conception Vessel 12 (Rn 12) – Zhong wan – is located on the midline along the abdomen, midway between the meeting point of the ribs and the navel. This point is used for deficient conditions of the Stomach and is commonly treated with moxibustion (moxa), a form of warming therapy.

While there are several acupuncture points that are contraindicated during pregnancy, licensed acupuncturists are properly trained to avoid the use of these points. Always inform your practitioner if you think you are pregnant. Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine have a long history and success rate in treatment a variety of woman’s disorders, including morning sickness.

What self-help tips can you do to ease morning sickness?

Several Chinese herbs can be safely used during pregnancy, commonly used as food therapy, easy to find at most of the grocery stores.

Ginger: Fresh ginger is a common herb used in Chinese medicine to help digestion, warming the stomach, and reducing the toxicity of other herbs. It is commonly used in cooking or it can be drunk as a tea or taken in concentrated capsule form. Don't take more than 3g of raw ginger (about three teaspoons) a day.

Cardamon Seed - Cardamon is a very effective herb for treating morning sickness due to its function of calming the stomach, transforming phlegm, circulating the Qi, and stopping vomiting. Cardamon is an ideal herb for morning sickness due to the additional function of “calming the fetus”, which means it is used for the prevention of miscarriage. Cardamon can also be ground and made into a tea, along with ginger, to alleviate nausea.

Vitamin B-6 rich foods and Zinc: Some studies show that women who have severe morning sickness have lower levels of vitamin B6 in their blood. A healthy balanced diet will provide enough vitamin B6. Sources of vitamin B6 include wholegrain, brown rice, avocados, bananas, hazelnuts, chickpeas, green leafy vegetables.

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