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Morning Sickness (Holistic)

About This Condition

Wake up to a new day with less nausea and a greater feeling of well-being. According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful.
  • Try vitamin B6

    Ease morning sickness by taking 10 to 25 mg three times a day

  • Enjoy some ginger

    Reduce nausea and vomiting by taking 1 gram of encapsulated ginger powder each day

  • Fill up on fluids

    Prevent dehydration due to morning sickness by refueling with fluids

About

About This Condition

Morning sickness is the common but poorly understood nausea that frequently accompanies early pregnancy.

It is generally not serious, although it can be quite unpleasant. Hyperemesis gravidarum is uncontrollable nausea and vomiting during pregnancy that results in severe dehydration and pH imbalances in the blood. It is distinct from morning sickness with nausea and vomiting. The former condition requires treatment by a healthcare professional and, sometimes, hospitalization. Hyperemesis gravidarum can sometimes result from hyperthyroidism,1 liver disease, kidney infection, pancreatitis, intestinal obstruction, or other causes—conditions that will not respond to any of the natural substances discussed in this article.

Symptoms

Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, lightheadedness, and dizziness during the early stages of pregnancy. Women with morning sickness may be particularly sensitive to certain odors and foods. However, eating small amounts of a particular food may relieve their symptoms.

Holistic Options

A controlled trial found that acupuncture significantly reduced symptoms in women with hyperemesis gravidarum, a severe form of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy that usually requires hospitalization.2 Treatment consisted of acupuncture at a single point on the forearm three times daily for two consecutive days. Acupressure (in which pressure, rather than needles, is used to stimulate acupuncture points) has also been found in several preliminary trials to be mildly effective in the treatment of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy.3 , 4 , 5

Eating Right

The right diet is the key to managing many diseases and to improving general quality of life. For this condition, scientific research has found benefit in the following healthy eating tips.

Recommendation Why
Choose good fats
In one study, women who ate high amounts of saturated fat (found mainly in meat and dairy) prior to pregnancy had a much higher morning sickness risk than did women eating less saturated fat, so look for lean meats and low-fat dairy, and cook with unsaturated fats, such as olive oil.

In a Harvard University study, women with a high intake of saturated fat (found mainly in meat and dairy) during the year prior to pregnancy had a much higher risk of severe morning sickness than did women eating less saturated fat. An increase in saturated fat intake of 15 grams per day (the equivalent of a four-ounce cheeseburger or three cups of whole milk) was associated with a greater than threefold increase in the risk of developing morning sickness.6

Eat some crackers
Some doctors recommend eating dry crackers upon waking. Drinking liquids and eating solid foods at separate times may be helpful as well.

Some doctors recommend that women with morning sickness eat dry crackers upon waking. Drinking liquids and eating solid foods at separate times may be helpful as well.

Supplements

What Are Star Ratings?

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.

2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.

1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

Supplement Why
3 Stars
Ginger
1 gram powder daily
Ginger, well-known for alleviating nausea and improving digestion, appears to be an effective and safe treatment for nausea and vomiting in pregnancy.

Ginger is well-known for alleviating nausea and improving digestion. One gram of encapsulated ginger powder was used in one study to reduce the severe nausea and vomiting associated with hyperemesis gravidarum.7 This condition is potentially life-threatening and should only be treated by a qualified healthcare professional. A review of six double-blind trials concluded that ginger is probably an effective treatment for nausea and vomiting in pregnancy.8

Because ginger contains some compounds that cause chromosomal mutation in the test tube, some doctors are concerned about the safety of using ginger during pregnancy. However, the available clinical research, combined with the fact that ginger is widely used in the diets of many cultures, suggests that prudent use of ginger for morning sickness is probably safe in amounts up to 1 gram per day.9

3 Stars
Vitamin B6
10 to 25 mg three times daily
In two double-blind trials, supplementation with vitamin B6 significantly reduced the severity of morning sickness.

In two double-blind trials, supplementation with vitamin B6 (10 or 25 mg three times per day) significantly reduced the severity of morning sickness.10 , 11

1 Star
Adrenal Extract
Refer to label instructions
Used under a doctor’s supervision, adrenal cortext extract may relieve nausea and vomiting during early pregnancy.

In a preliminary study done in the 1930s, eight women suffering from nausea and vomiting during the first trimester (13 weeks) of pregnancy received large amounts of oral adrenal cortex extract. In most cases, vomiting stopped after three to four days.12 In a follow-up study, women with nausea and vomiting of pregnancy received adrenal cortex extract, usually by injection at first, followed by oral administration. More than 85% of the women were completely relieved of the problem or showed definite improvement.13 Since no safety data exist for use during pregnancy, adrenal extract should not be used in these situations unless supervised by a doctor.

1 Star
Vitamin C
Refer to label instructions
Vitamin K and vitamin C, taken together, may provide relief of morning sickness symptoms for some women.

Vitamin K and vitamin C, taken together, may provide relief of symptoms for some women. In one study, 91% of women who took 5 mg of vitamin K and 25 mg of vitamin C per day reported the complete disappearance of morning sickness within three days.14 Menadione was removed from the market a number of years ago because of concerns about potential toxicity. Although some doctors still use a combination of vitamin K1 (the most prevalent form of vitamin K in food) and vitamin C for morning sickness, no studies on this treatment have been done.

1 Star
Vitamin K
Refer to label instructions
Vitamin K and vitamin C, taken together, may provide relief of morning sickness symptoms for some women.

Vitamin K and vitamin C, taken together, may provide relief of symptoms for some women. In one study, 91% of women who took 5 mg of vitamin K and 25 mg of vitamin C per day reported the complete disappearance of morning sickness within three days.15 Menadione was removed from the market a number of years ago because of concerns about potential toxicity. Although some doctors still use a combination of vitamin K1 (the most prevalent form of vitamin K in food) and vitamin C for morning sickness, no studies on this treatment have been done.

References

1. Chan NN. Thyroid function in hyperemesis gravidarum. Lancet 1999;353:2243 [letter].

2. Carlsson CPO, Axemo P, Bodin A, et al. Manual acupuncture reduces hyperemesis gravidarum: a placebo-controlled, randomized, single-blind, crossover study. J Pain Symptom Manage 2000;20:273–9.

3. Stainton MC, Neff EJ. The efficacy of SeaBands for the control of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. Health Care Women Int 1994;15:563–75.

4. Belluomini J, Litt RC, Lee KA, Katz M. Acupressure for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy: a randomized, blinded study. Obstet Gynecol 1994;84:245–8.

5. Hyde E. Acupressure therapy for morning sickness. A controlled clinical trial. J Nurse Midwifery 1989;34:171–8.

6. Signorello LB, Harlow BL, Wang SP, Erick MA. Saturated fat intake and the risk of severe hyperemesis gravidarum. Am J Epidemiol 1996;143 (11 Suppl):S25 [abstract # 97].

7. Fischer-Rasmussen W, Kjaer SK, Dahl C, Asping U. Ginger treatment of hyperemesis gravidarum. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol 1991;38:19–24.

8. Borrelli F, Capasso R, Aviello G, et al. Effectiveness and safety of ginger in the treatment of pregnancy-induced nausea and vomiting. Obstet Gynecol 2005;105:849–56.

9. Fulder S, Tenne M. Ginger as an anti-nausea remedy in pregnancy and the issue of safety. HerbalGram 1996;38:47–50.

10. Sahakian V, Rouse D, Sipes S, et al. Vitamin B6 is effective therapy for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy: a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study. Obstet Gynecol 1991;78:33–6.

11. Vutyavanich T, Wongtra-ngan S, Ruangsri R. Pyridoxine for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy: a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled trial. Am J Obstet Gynecol 1995;173:881–4.

12. Kemp WN. Hyperemesis gravidarum treated as a temporary adrenal cortex deficiency. Can Med Assoc J 1933;28:389–91.

13. Kemp WN. The vomiting of pregnancy treated as a temporary relative insufficiency of maternal corticoadrenal function. Med Rec 1934;140:239–41.

14. Merkel RL. The use of menadione bisulfite and ascorbic acid in the treatment of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. Am J Obstet Gynecol 1952;64:416–8.

15. Merkel RL. The use of menadione bisulfite and ascorbic acid in the treatment of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. Am J Obstet Gynecol 1952;64:416–8.

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