Morning sickness, and its more extreme form hyperemesis gravidarum, are frequent complaints among expectant mothers. Unfortunately, at this point, conventional medicine can offer them little help in the way of relief. This leaves those suffering, to soldier on until their pregnancy reaches around 16 weeks. At this point, the nausea usually decreases, but not always.

For those suffering from the more extreme nausea, it can continue throughout their entire pregnancy. There are many conventional and folk explanations for the causes of this condition, and how best to treat it. But generally it is the embryo/fetus that is thought to be the root cause of the problem.

Oriental medicine takes a different perspective, and views the cause of the condition to lie with the mother, not the embryo/fetus, so focuses attention on the former, not the latter. In its normal, healthy condition, pregnant or not, a person’s stomach energy should remain “down.” When stomach energy is weak, it cannot keep the stomach energy down, so this energy starts to rise. It is this elevated stomach energy that causes more nausea in pregnancy. The higher the stomach energy, the worse the nausea. Elevated stomach energy will cause nausea, whether or not you are pregnant.

In healthy stomach function, the liver, lung, bladder and large intestine all aid in keeping stomach energy down. If you are experiencing morning sickness, it is a sign that one, or more, of these organs is not doing its job. It is out of balance, and needs to be rebalanced immediately with acupuncture. One or two sessions of acupuncture for a week, together with tiny ear seeds worn behind the ear for 24 hours, are usually all that is necessary to stop the nausea immediately. After that, your stomach energy will be back down, where it should be, and you will have no more morning sickness. You should start this treatment as soon as you begin to feel nauseous, as it can be easily and safely stopped, with no harm to the embryo/fetus.

However, if you are just planning to become pregnant, it is wise to start thinking about your diet and overall health condition in advance, particularly if you have any known hereditary or genetic conditions that need special monitoring or treatment. It is also recommended that you have a complete health check-up with your conventional and oriental medical practitioners to identify and treat any unexpected health issues.

Being proactive will help to ensure that you experience few or none of the usual health issues commonly associated with pregnancy, and that you have a great birth experience.

Dr. Hyun K. Lee has a practice in Solvang and Beverly Hills. He can be reached at 693-5162 or email dr.hklee@hotmail.com.

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