Morning Sickness – biomedicine and Chinese World views

(Organ names in Chinese medicine differ from Western medicine’s understanding).​

Morning sickness, which is characterized by nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, affects up to 80% of pregnant women. Western medicine attributes morning sickness to the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy, particularly the increase in human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and estrogen. Treatment options include dietary changes, antacids, and in severe cases, medication. A condition named Hyperemesis Gravidarum requires Western Medical intervention, and hence it is imperative to see your obstetrician or medical doctor to diagnose and rule out any serious conditions during pregnancy.

In Chinese Medicine, morning sickness is understood as a disharmony between the Qi and Blood of the TCM-Spleen and Stomach. This disharmony is often caused by the Liver Qi Stagnation, which occurs when the Liver Qi cannot flow freely, leading to a buildup of Heat and Dampness in the body. Other factors that contribute to morning sickness according to Chinese medicine include emotional stress, dietary habits, and a weak constitution.

To manage morning sickness, Chinese Medicine practitioners often focus on regulating the Qi flow and harmonizing the Stomach and Spleen. Acupuncture, acupressure, and herbal medicine are all effective approaches that can help alleviate the symptoms of morning sickness. Acupressure involves applying pressure to specific acupuncture points on the body, while acupuncture involves inserting thin needles into these points.

In addition to these approaches, dietary changes are also recommended in Chinese medicine to support healthy digestion and alleviate morning sickness symptoms. Eating small, frequent meals throughout the day, avoiding spicy and greasy foods, and consuming warm and easy-to-digest foods can all help regulate the Qi flow and harmonize the Stomach and Spleen.

According to the Five Element Theory of Chinese Medicine, morning sickness is associated with the Wood Element, which corresponds to the Liver and Gallbladder meridians. The Wood Element is responsible for regulating the Qi flow in the body, and when it is imbalanced, it can lead to disharmonies such as Liver Qi Stagnation. Therefore, restoring balance to the Wood Element is an important aspect of managing morning sickness.

The Shan Han Lun and Wen Bing Schools of Chinese Medicine also provide insights into the management of morning sickness. These schools focus on the treatment of external pathogens and differentiate between different types of disharmonies caused by external factors. In the case of morning sickness, the pathogenic factors are often Heat and Dampness, which can be addressed through the use of specific herbal formulas and dietary changes.

In summary, while Western medicine and Chinese medicine have different understandings of the underlying causes of morning sickness, they share a common goal of providing relief to pregnant women experiencing this condition. A complementary approach that combines the strengths of both medical systems can provide the most effective management of morning sickness symptoms.



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