A small study published in Acupuncture Medicine reports that acupuncture may be beneficial in easing symptoms of indigestion which are very frequent in pregnant women. The hormonal changes in the body during pregnancy cause heartburn, stomach pain and discomfort, reflux, belching and bloating. Between 45 to 80 percent of women are reported to experience those symptoms.
The symptoms are likely to increase with the evolution of the pregnancy. Many mothers-to- be are reluctant to take medicine due to fear of harming the developing fetus. Even though, in most cases the discomfort is not severe, it does affect the quality of life.
In this study, forty two pregnant women with symptoms of indigestion were assigned randomly to either conventional treatment (counseling on nutrition and indigestion cures) or conventional treatment in addition to acupuncture sessions once or twice a week.
All of the women were between fifteen to thirty weeks of pregnancy, and aged fifteen to thirty nine.
At the beginning of the study, the symptoms were evaluated and recorded, and then every two weeks until the conclusion of the research after eight weeks.
In the end, the study assessed twenty women in the acupuncture group and sixteen in the conservative treatment group, since six women dropped out before the research was completed.
Results showed that the women in the acupuncture group had less severe symptoms and required less medication than women in the conventionally treated group.
The average intensity of heartburn which was the most frequent symptom, halved for three out of four of the twenty women receiving acupuncture.
This measures to a proportional drop of forty four percent for those in the traditionally treated group.
Seven of the women in each group took antacids. On average, the ones receiving acupuncture needed 6.3 fewer doses. Those receiving conventional treatment increased their intake by 4.4 doses, on average.
Once their treatment was finished, fifteen of the women receiving acupuncture reported that their diet had improved by fifty percent. In comparison, less than one in three reported that improvement in the other group.
In addition, fourteen of the women receiving acupuncture mentioned their sleep had a fifty percent improvement. There was just one in four in those treated conservatively.
The authors concede that additional research involving larger numbers is required to validate these findings. They suggest that acupuncture could be beneficial. They write: “It is simple to apply and if used in an appropriate manner, can reduce the need for medication.”
“Acupuncture for dyspepsia in pregnancy: a prospective, randomised, controlled study”
Joa˜o Bosco Guerreiro da Silva, Mary Uchiyama Nakamura, Jose´ Antonio Cordeiro, Luiz Kulay Jr, Rassen Saidah
Written by Stephanie Brunner (B.A.)