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Dr. Jamie Fettig

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Acupressure Can Relieve Morning Sickness

Pregnant women who suffer from nausea and vomiting may find relief through the traditional Chinese technique of acupressure, or a modern variation on the technique in which electrical stimulation is delivered to the pressure point.

Acupressure operates on the same principle as acupuncture, in which needles are used to put pressure on certain points of the body. The less invasive technique relies on the thumb or a button to apply pressure and lasts between 3 and 15 minutes.

Women received pressure on an area above the wrist on the inside of the forearm known as the Neiguan, or P6, point. Stimulation of this point is thought to relieve nausea and vomiting related to morning sickness, as well as from chemotherapy and motion sickness.

One day after the study began, women who wore bands at either point reported feeling less nauseous. But women who wore bands exerting pressure on the P6 point continued to feel less nauseous 14 days later, while those who wore bands at the placebo point began to experience symptoms after 6 days of relief.

The method seems to be useful in reducing nausea in pregnancy and that if it is possible to eliminate this discomfort by wearing a wristband applying pressure at the Neiguan point it is worth trying.

The bands are cheap, are not associated with any side effects and deliver immediate benefits, the researchers added.

Indeed, many of the drugs used to treat nausea and vomiting may cause birth defects. This leaves women who experience severe morning sickness -- who may be at risk for dehydration, nutritional deficiencies and electrolyte imbalances -- with few options.

The cost of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy in terms of medical care and work time loss are staggering. Symptoms of morning sickness declined when women wore wristbands delivering electrical stimulation to the P6 point.

About 50% to 90% of pregnant women experience morning sickness or a more severe condition, hyperemesis gravidarum, in which women vomit several times a day.

The Journal of Reproductive Medicine September 2001;46:811-814, 835-839


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