Acupuncture helps to relieve the symptoms of indigestion in pregnancy, a study published on bmj.com has suggested.
Between 45% and 80% of pregnant women have heartburn, stomach pain and discomfort, reflux, belching and bloating during pregnancy as a result of hormonal changes in the body at this time.
Symptoms tend to worsen as the pregnancy progresses and can adversely affect the life of the pregnant women who often don’t want to take medicines in case they harm the developing foetus.
The researchers divided pregnant women with indigestion into two groups – one that received conventional treatment – counselling on dietary changes and indigestion remedies, if required – and another that received acupuncture once or twice a week as well as conventional treatment.
The women who had sessions of acupuncture had less severe symptoms and needed less medication than women treated only by conventional means, according to the researchers.
During the study period, the average intensity of heartburn - the most common symptom - halved for three out of four of the women receiving acupuncture.
Only 44% of those treated conventionally experienced a comparable drop.
After their treatment, three quarters of the women in the acupuncture group said that their eating had improved by 50%, compared with fewer than one in three in the other group. A large percentage of the acupuncture group also said their sleep had improved significantly.
The research was conducted on a small group of women, and the authors acknowledge that further research on larger numbers is needed to confirm these findings.
“Acupuncture is simple to apply and if used in an appropriate manner, can reduce the need for medication,” they wrote.
The study was published in Acupuncture in Medicine.
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