Treating Morning Sickness with Acupuncture

Morning sickness can range from mild nausea to occasional vomiting during early pregnancy. It usually begins after the sixth week, and often ends early into the second trimester. The cause of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy is believed to be due to the rapidly rising blood level of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). Because you throw up so often and cannot keep food and fluid down, morning sickness can be very debilitating.

When morning sickness becomes more severe, it is known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG), a known complication of pregnancy. HG is characterized by severe nausea and vomiting such that weight loss and dehydration occur. Symptoms usually get better after the 20th week of pregnancy but some women experienced it till full term. HG is estimated to affect 0.3–2.0% of pregnant women. You will be diagnosed with HG if you experience more than three episodes of vomiting per day such that weight loss of 5% or three kilograms has occurred and ketones are present in the urine.

If your symptoms are relatively mild and you are able to keep some food and liquid down, try natural methods to fight the nausea and vomiting. Adding ginger into your cooking or drink ginger tea and tweaking your diet to eliminate fatty and spicy foods, which are more likely to cause nausea. Of course, be aware of smells or tastes that tend to set you off. Grazing on six to eight small, high-carb and high-protein meals throughout the day are easier to digest and prevent gastritis or malnutrition from occurring.

For mothers suffering from HG, it is even more crucial to take in more fluids and consume nutritional bland diet. Recommendations may include electrolyte-replacement drinks, thiamine, and a higher protein diet. When there is severe dehydration, your obstetrician may send you in for an IV-drip.

Most mothers in pregnancy seek acupuncture to help with morning sickness because they are vomiting more frequently and do not want to go in for an IV-drip. Acupuncture is a safe way to treat nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, according to a 2002 study by Smith et al.

According to the 2005 study by Neri et al, acupuncture twice a week for two weeks was able to reduce nausea intensity after the second session in the 25% of the population, and 50% of the population after 4 sessions. Reduction in vomiting episodes, followed up increased food intake was seen in 16.2% of the patients after the first session.

At our clinic, we treat using a mixture of acupuncture and visceral manipulation. Although it is not always the case, we have seen moderate to good results, especially for the dizziness that comes with the nausea. Patients who want to come in for acupuncture are encouraged to book in for the initial session, then monitor her response to the session. Outcomes vary depending on person and severity of condition.


  • Neri I, Allais G, Schiapparelli P, Blasi I, Benedetto C, Facchinetti F. “Acupuncture versus pharmacological approach to reduce Hyperemesis gravidarum discomfort.”. Minerva Ginecol. 2005 Aug;57(4):471-5.
  • Smith C, Crowther C, Beilby J. “Acupuncture to treat nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy: a randomised trial”. Birth. 2002.Mar:29 (1): 1-9.