Silhouette pregnant woman holding her belly

Is Acupuncture an Effective Treatment for Morning Sickness?

Most pregnant women will get morning sickness during their pregnancy. It is most common during the first three months of pregnancy. Despite its name, morning sickness can occur at any time of the day or night. When morning sickness strikes, you feel like throwing up. In most cases, it is brought on by certain smells or foods.

Rarely, morning sickness can turn into hyperemesis gravidarum, the medical term for severe nausea and vomiting. Hyperemesis gravidarum can cause excess fluid loss. As a result, some women with this condition may lose up to 5% of their pre-pregnancy body weight.

So, if you’re a San Francisco resident wondering how acupuncture can be an effective treatment for morning sickness, let’s discuss.

Causes and Risk Factors

Morning sickness has no known cause. However, many healthcare experts believe that hormonal imbalance may have a role to play. In some cases, an underlying health condition such as gallbladder or thyroid disease can cause nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.

Who is at higher risk of morning sickness?

Women who:

  • Are pregnant with more than one baby
  • Experienced morning sickness during a previous pregnancy
  • Suffer from migraines, motion sickness, or any other health condition that causes nausea or vomiting

Hyperemesis gravidarum usually affects women:

  • Who are pregnant with a girl
  • Who have had grappled with the problem during an earlier pregnancy
  • With a family history of hyperemesis gravidarum  


If left untreated, severe nausea and vomiting can cause dehydration or an electrolyte imbalance and can also lead to low urine output.

Can Acupuncture Help Morning Sickness?

If you experience morning sickness, give pregnancy acupuncture near you a try. Studies show that acupuncture stimulates the pituitary gland to increase the production of ACTH and endorphins, inhibiting the chemoreceptor trigger zone or CTZ, the area of the brain that plays a key role in inducing the vomiting reflex.

Stress can make morning sickness worse. Acupuncture helps reduce stress by stimulating the body to increase the production of feel-good hormones including endorphins, serotonin, and oxytocin. These boost your mental and emotional well-being and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which goes into overdrive, relieving stress and anxiety.

A higher-than-normal amount of stomach acid can lead to nausea, heartburn, and bloating. Acupuncture can help decrease stomach acid secretion.

In a 2002 study, the researchers split 600 pregnant women into three groups. One group received traditional acupuncture, the second group received sham acupuncture, and the third group received no acupuncture. At the end of two weeks, the women in the group that received acupuncture reported a reduction in the frequency and severity of nausea episodes. Another study concluded that acupuncture could help reduce the frequency of vomiting episodes in as little as three days.

Anchor Acupuncture & Wellness is an established acupuncture clinic serving San Francisco. We focus on the root causes of health problems instead of just their symptoms. To make an appointment, call (415) 855-3112.

Amanda Moler is a licensed acupuncturist and certified fertility acupuncturist (FABORM), serving San Francisco, CA.  Her educational background includes receiving a bachelor’s degree in Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution from Antioch College in 2001 and in 2010, her master’s degree from American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine. In 2008, she also attended Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in Chicago, IL for education on acupuncture and oriental medicine. Asa Fellow of the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine, she has gained recognition for treating complex women fertility cases, providing guidance on painful side-effects of drugs, hormones, and maintaining the overall well-being of women. Follow Anchor Acupuncture and Amanda Moler on Facebook , Instagram, LinkedIn.