Research from the Women's and Children's Hospital and Adelaide University, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology has now shown that acupuncture is an extremely effective treatment for morning sickness in early pregnancy.
A large trial was undertaken involving 593 women who were less than 14 weeks pregnant with symptoms of nausea or vomiting. Twenty-minute sessions of acupuncture were given weekly for four weeks.
Study Coordinator Dr Caroline Smith says, "Around 50 to 80% of all pregnant women experience nausea or vomiting in early pregnancy. As a result they can have poor quality of life - they feel lousy and may be low in spirits, anxious and find it hard to do everyday things.
"Our results have shown that as little as one acupuncture treatment can significantly change the way these women feel.
"We found that traditional acupuncture reduced nausea throughout the trial with dry retching being reduced from the second week. Another type of acupuncture called p6 took around a week longer to have an effect, " Dr Smith says.
Traditional acupuncture uses a variety of acupuncture points on the forearm or abdomen, whereas p6 acupuncture involves only one acupuncture point classically associated with nausea and vomiting. Dr Smith believes this research is particularly important as it provides good quality evidence for a complementary therapy.
"Women now have an additional option to manage their morning sickness. They function physically and emotionally much better after both types of acupuncture.
"I hope this exciting evidence that complementary therapy does work, will open up new opportunities for funding future research in women's health," Dr Smith says.
The findings are published this week in the American journal 'Birth', volume 29.
The Women's and Children's Hospital is also involved in trials of other complementary medicines for women's health. For example, a trial of ginger to reduce morning sickness is in the final stages of recruitment, and a trial of acupuncture to induce labour is underway.
To arrange interviews with Dr Smith please contact:
Dr Edna Bates
Manager, Research Communications Tel ( 618) 8161 7388 mobile 0401 125 630
Women's and Children's Hospital www.wch.sa.gov.au