Acupuncture may relieve indigestion during pregnancy
Acupuncture seems to relieve the symptoms of indigestion, which many women have during pregnancy, suggests a small study published in Acupuncture in Medicine.
Between 45% and 80% of pregnant women have heartburn, stomach pain/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 although these are not severe in most cases, they nevertheless affect the quality of life of mums to be, who often don't want to take medicines in case they harm the developing fetus.
The researchers randomly allocated 42 pregnant women with symptoms of indigestion to either receive conventional treatment - counselling on dietary changes and indigestion remedies, if required - or conventional treatment plus acupuncture once or twice a week.
All the women were aged between 15 and 39, and were between 15 and 30 weeks of pregnancy.
Their symptoms were assessed and recorded at the start of the study and then every fortnight until the study completed after eight weeks.
Those women who had had sessions of acupuncture had less severe symptoms and needed less medication than women treated only by conventional means.
During the study period, the average intensity of heartburn - the most common symptom - halved for three out of four of the 20 women receiving acupuncture.
This compares to a comparable drop of under half (44%) for those treated conventionally.
The authors acknowledge that further research on larger numbers is needed to confirm these findings, but suggest that acupuncture could help. "It is simple to apply and if used in an appropriate manner, can reduce the need for medication," they write.