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9 Natural Remedies to Manage Symptoms of Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Updated: Aug 26, 2023


What Is Hyperemesis Gravidarum?


You’ve heard of morning sickness during pregnancy, but what about when nausea and vomiting is so severe that the mother loses over 5 percent of her body weight and suffers from malnutrition?


Oh, and unlike morning sickness that tends to last only during the first trimester, this can last 20 weeks into pregnancy, or longer.





This is a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) and for women going through it, being offered a cracker or told that it’s just a mental thing can be extremely insulting and discouraging.


HG is the most common cause of hospitalization during the first half of pregnancy — and second only to preterm labor as a cause of hospitalization during pregnancy.

It’s a debilitating and relentless condition that greatly impacts a woman and her family. Women with HG have difficulty performing their usual activities and find that this disorder alters their physical, psychological and social functioning.


Many women are left questioning why they have this serious condition, and although the exact cause is unclear, new research is pinpointing some specific links that may help to determine who is at the greatest risk of HG.




 

9 Natural Remedies to Manage Symptoms


1. Dietary Changes

Adequate nutrition is one of the most challenging issues for women with hyperemesis. Although a pregnant woman needs a variety of nutrients for the health and proper development of her baby, the symptoms of hyperemesis can make it impossible to eat a balanced diet.


According to research published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, “modification of the amount and size of meals consumed throughout the day may help relieve symptoms.” This may be helpful for women who are able to tolerate meals that are made up of certain foods. Instead of eating 2–3 large meals per day, it may help to consume smaller amounts of food and fluids more often. Researchers also suggest eating meals that contain more carbohydrates than fats and acid and meals higher in protein may help to decrease symptoms. On top of this, any foods that trigger nausea should be identified and avoided.


For some women with hyperemesis, the idea of eating any type of food can be nauseating. If this is what you’re dealing with, seek medical treatment before you become dehydrated and malnourished. Early intervention is important for your health and the health of your baby.


2. Reduce Stress and Get Rest

Women who are suffering from hyperemesis symptoms should try their best to reduce stress and get as much rest as possible. With this condition, prolonged fatigue is common and bed rest is often necessary, sometimes for an extended period of time.


Sometimes women with this condition find it helpful to get emotional support from a psychologist to help address the debilitating symptoms. Counseling and support groups can be extremely helpful for women who are feeling hopeless about these seemingly endless symptoms.



3. Chiropractic Care and Massage Therapy

Chiropractic adjustments and massage therapy may help women who are experiencing pain due to atrophy, musculoskeletal changes and immobility. This type of care can also assist in muscle relaxation and toxin release.


A study conducted in Sweden found that tactile massage serves as a good alternative and complement to traditional treatment or ‘severe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy’ (SNVP). When ten women with SNVP received tactile massage on three separate occasions while hospitalized for their symptoms, it was said to promote relaxation and give the women an opportunity to regain access to their bodies.


4. Physical Therapy

For women who are bedridden for an extended period of time because of the severity of hyperemesis symptoms, physical therapy can be beneficial. Learning simple exercises to help the mother maintain muscle tone and flexibility can help to lessen the impact of inactivity.

Physical therapy may also help with postural balance, especially those who are affected by hyperemesis and generally have poor postural stability and balance and a high risk of falling compared to pregnant women who do not have this condition.


5. Ginger

Ginger may block the gastrointestinal responses that cause nausea and increase motility of the GI tract. Studies suggest that ginger health benefits may help some women with hyperemesis gravidarum, especially in mild-moderate cases.


In one study, one gram of ginger was administered daily for four days. Preference among the patients to receive ginger versus placebo was significant. However, some studies suggest that taking ginger may actually make hyperemesis symptoms worse. Based on the data, trying ginger for a four-day period will help a woman with this condition to determine whether or not ginger is effective for her symptoms.


If you’d like to start with smaller amounts of ginger to see how you react, try ginger essential oil or ginger tea.


6. Vitamin B6

Studies show that vitamin B6 might be better than placebo in reducing the severity of hyperemesis symptoms, especially at higher doses.


In a review that evaluated five studies including participants taking vitamin B6 for mild to moderate symptoms of hyperemesis, vitamin B6 led to a reduction in symptoms of vomiting and nausea, especially in women with more severe symptoms. Usually, supplementing 25–50 milligrams of vitamin B6 three times daily will help to reduce nausea and vomiting. Before taking high doses of vitamin B6, talk to your healthcare provider about the proper course of action.


7. Thiamine

Research suggests that pregnant women should ingest a total of 1.5 milligrams of thiamine per day, and if they can’t take thiamine orally because of vomiting, it should be taken intravenously.


A condition called Wernicke’s encephalopathy is caused by a thiamine deficiency and can result in serious neurological damage. Hyperemesis is associated with this rare neurological disorder, which is why thiamine supplementation is crucial for women with severe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.


8. Acupressure and Acupuncture

Although the research on the efficacy of acupressure and acupuncture in the treatment of hyperemesis gravidarum are mixed, there is evidence that this form of therapy is helpful for some women experiencing severe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.


A study conducted in Croatia evaluated the antiemetic effects of acupuncture and acupressure. The trial included 36 pregnant women with hyperemesis gravidarum. Researchers found that the efficiency of treatment with acupuncture of the point PC6 (above the wrist on the inner forearm) was 90 percent, and treatment with acupressure of the PC6 was 63 percent, compared to the placebo treatment that was 12.5 and 0 percent efficient.


9. Hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy is a therapeutic tool that guides an individual into a relaxed state, promoting a sense of well-being and calmness.


A scientific review published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology analyzed six studies that described hypnosis in the treatment of hyperemesis gravidarum. Researchers found that methodology between the studies differed, but all reported encouraging positive outcomes.






Final Thoughts

  • Approximately 0.3–2 percent of pregnant women suffer from hyperemesis gravidarum, a condition that’s characterized by severe nausea and vomiting.

  • Hyperemesis gravidarum can be an extremely debilitating condition for pregnant women, often leading to hospitalization. If it’s not managed adequately, it can lead to major health issues for both the mother and baby.

  • Symptoms of hyperemesis usually begin 4–6 weeks into pregnancy, peak at 9 weeks and subside by around 20 weeks.

  • The cause of hyperemesis gravidarum still isn’t exactly known, but new research suggests that two genes are associated with the condition.

  • Dietary and lifestyle changes are the first line of defense for hyperesmesis. When these changes don’t improve symptoms, many patients turn to antiemetics to relieve nausea.

  • Natural remedies for hyperemesis gravidarum symptoms include dietary changes, reducing stress and getting rest, chiropractic care and massage therapy, physical therapy, ginger, vitamin B6, thiamine, acupressure and acupunture and hypnotherapy.


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