Smith C et al, Birth, 2002, (1) 1-9
Nearly 600 women in their first trimester of pregnancy who were suffering from nausea, were treated with acupuncture once a week for four weeks. It was reported that acupuncture reduced nausea and dry retching from the second week of treatment compared with the control group who received no treatment.
Nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy are troublesome symptoms for some women. We undertook a single blind randomized controlled trial to determine whether acupuncture reduced nausea, dry retching, and vomiting, and improved the health status of women in pregnancy.
The trial was undertaken at a maternity teaching hospital in Adelaide, Australia, where 593 women less than 14 weeks’ pregnant with symptoms of nausea or vomiting were randomized into 4 groups: traditional acupuncture, pericardium 6 (p6) acupuncture, sham acupuncture, or no acupuncture (control). Treatment was administered weekly for 4 weeks. The primary outcomes were nausea, dry retching, vomiting, and health status. Comparisons were made between groups over 4 consecutive weeks.
Women receiving traditional acupuncture reported less nausea (p < 0.01) throughout the trial and less dry retching (p < 0.01) from the second week compared with women in the no acupuncture control group. Women who received p6 acupuncture (p < 0.05) reported less nausea from the second week of the trial, and less dry retching (p < 0.001) from the third week compared with women in the no acupuncture control group. Women in the sham acupuncture group (p < 0.01) reported less nausea and dry retching (p < 0.001) from the third week compared with women in the no acupuncture group. No differences in vomiting were found among the groups at any time.
Acupuncture is an effective treatment for women who experience nausea and dry retching in early pregnancy. A time-related placebo effect was found for some women.