Objective: To compare acupuncture with sham (placebo) acupuncture for treatment of nausea of pregnancy.
Methods: In a subject- and observer-masked, randomized, controlled trial in the maternity unit at Exeter Hospital, we gave 55 women between 6 and 10 weeks' gestation genuine, traditional-style acupuncture or sham treatment with a cocktail stick on three or four occasions over 3 weeks. The main outcome measure was nausea score, as determined by subject report on a visual analogue scale in a daily diary. Anxiety and depression also were assessed.
Results: Nausea scores decreased from a median of 85.5 (interquartile range 71.25-89.75) to 47.5 (interquartile range 29.25-69.5) in the acupuncture group and from 87.0 (interquartile range 73.0-90.0) to 48.0 (interquartile range 14.0-80.0) in the sham treatment group. There was strong evidence of a time effect (P <.001) but no evidence of a group effect (P =.9) or a group-time interaction (P =.8). Similarly, there was evidence of time effects in scores for anxiety and depression but no group differences. The study had a power of 95% to detect significant differences in nausea scores.
Conclusion: Acupuncture was as effective in treating nausea of pregnancy as a sham procedure.