In the UK news this week is a story about morning sickness costing the NHS £60 million per year.
The article suggests that four out of five women in the UK suffer from nausea and many of them will seek medical advice. In fact, there may be as many as 80 ambulance callouts per day, related to nausea and vomiting in pregnancy.
Of course as the article suggests many women are reluctant to take medicines during pregnancy, including anti-sickness medication. But, as the article goes on it suggests that reluctance to seek help in the early stages may be a factor in becoming so poorly that it may be too hard to get symptoms under control even with medication.
Are there any safe and effective alternatives?
I previously wrote about acupressure for nausea in relation to the nausea associated with migraine headaches.
Acupressure is the therapeutic use of pressure on an acupuncture point. In fact, the acupressure point I discussed in my previous post is also thought effective in other forms of nausea including morning sickness. It is also quite easy to locate the point and use on yourself.
Since acupressure is something that can be quickly and easily done, it can be used when symptoms first arise, which may be enough to nip the nausea in the bud.
Ginger is a culinary spice with a long history of use as a digestive aid and anti-nausea medicine. A 2015 article published in the Journal – American Family Physician suggests that ginger may be beneficial for morning sickness. It states that ginger may reduce nausea and vomiting compared with placebo, but results may vary with different preparations. While ginger is also mentioned as a remedy for morning sickness in the recent news article, it is important to know that ginger should be limited to less than 2g per day during pregnancy.
In fact, in 2005 an article published in the Journal of Midwifery and Women’s health described the evidence obtained in four studies on the effectiveness of ginger in treating nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. A 1g dose of ginger, either in capsule or syrup form, was used effectively from four days to three weeks, without adverse effects.
Product formulations do vary, so check labels to ensure no more than 1g/day. Ginger is used in many forms. The following table includes suggestions from the 2005 article showing the different preparations, and the amount of ginger they likely provide:
1g of ginger, or 1000mg ginger, equivalent to:
- 1 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger
- 2ml of liquid extract of ginger
- 2tsp ginger syrup
- 4 cups of ginger tea, from prepackaged ginger tea bags
- 4 cups of ginger tea, made by steeping 1/2 tsp of fresh grated ginger for 5 to 10 mins
- 200ml ginger ale, made with real ginger
- 2 pieces of crystallised ginger, approx 2.5cm square, 5mm thick
Ginger has a long history of safe use, but during pregnancy it is important to be aware of the potential risks from high doses. However, the British Herbal Compendium does list ginger as a remedy for vomiting during pregnancy. And, a 2018 French study agrees that the available evidence suggests ginger is a safe and effective remedy for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy.
Incidentally, I recently heard about a neat trick for easily peeling fresh ginger root – with a spoon! It really works…