Morning Sickness: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Morning sickness is a common symptom of pregnancy, although not all pregnant women experience it. It can range from mild nausea to severe and frequent vomiting, and may last for up to three months or throughout the entire pregnancy. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the intensity of morning sickness is often related to the woman's pre-existing digestive system.

Causes of Morning Sickness in TCM

In TCM, morning sickness is often linked to an imbalance between blood and qi within the penetrating vessel (chong mai) during the first three months of pregnancy. During this time, profound changes take place in the directing and penetrating vessels, and the mother's blood, essence, and kidney energy nourish the fetus, promoting the formation of major body systems and organs. This can put a strain on the blood, essence, and kidney energy of the mother's penetrating vessel, leading to deficiencies in blood and kidneys and causing the vessel's qi to rebel upwards towards the stomach and chest.

Pathological Conditions in TCM

If morning sickness is severe and lasts beyond the first three months of pregnancy, it may be caused by pre-existing pathological conditions in TCM, such as liver qi stagnation, deficiency of the stomach and spleen, or failure of heart qi to descend. In TCM, prolonged stagnation of liver qi may give rise to heat which affects the stomach, leading to severe vomiting soon after eating. On the other hand, a deficiency of stomach and spleen may lead to the formation of phlegm, which can worsen the feeling of nausea. Additionally, failure of heart qi to descend can cause nausea and vomiting in TCM.

Treatment of Morning Sickness in TCM

In TCM, acupuncture and herbal medicine can be effective treatments for morning sickness. It is important to consult with a qualified practitioner for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan based on TCM principles. For example, acupuncture points such as ST-30 Qichong and P-6 Neiguan may be used to regulate qi and blood, and herbs such as ginger and peppermint may be used to relieve nausea and vomiting.

For more information on morning sickness in TCM, visit the Mayo Clinic.