nude-pregnancyThey’re among the cardinal signs of early pregnancy — experienced by 50% to 80% of women.

Let’s focus on CAM options from this review by researchers at the University of Utah and the University of California at San Francisco.

Dietary and lifestyle recommendations

  • Most recommendations (small amounts of food at frequent intervals; avoiding rich, spicy food; eating dry crackers) are safe, but haven’t been studied.
  • No studies have tested multivitamins to prevent nausea and vomiting of pregnancy.
  • The iron in prenatal vitamins can cause gastrointestinal symptoms in some women; therefore, prenatal vitamins are stopped until the nausea and vomiting stop.


  • In studies, the severity of nausea and number of episodes of vomiting were reduced during ginger treatment, and participants reported a preference for it.
  • Ginger is at least as effective as pyridoxine (vitamin B6), and in some studies, more effective in alleviating symptoms.

Peppermint oil

  • Promotes menstrual flow and is not often recommended during pregnancy.

Cannabis (marijuana)

  • There are concerns about adverse effects on the fetus/child from prenatal use of marijuana.
  • Alcoholic extracts of cannabis, as opposed to the smoked herb, may have oxytocic (induced labor) properties and should not be used in pregnancy.


  • The evidence for the benefits of P6 acupuncture or acupressure is mixed.

Hypnotherapy or other behavioral therapies

  • It is possible that in some women, vomiting becomes a conditioned or anticipatory response and is amenable to hypnosis or other psychotherapeutic approaches.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “No single therapy for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy is clearly the safest and most efficacious.”

Many women don’t want to take “medicine” while they are pregnant, and CAM is an option as part of a comprehensive approach to treatment and prevention.

12/27/09 19:56 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.