By John Salak –
Morning sickness is a well-known and serious business. It affects 80 to 85 percent of all pregnancies, often causing debilitating consequences, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Yet for all the information and focus on the condition, the exact cause of morning sickness remains a mystery. Hormonal changes are suspected as one reason for awful nausea and fatigue, but again, it is all speculation. Fortunately, it doesn’t generally harm the fetus.
Sufferers can use various methods to combat the sickness, although their effectiveness can vary. Medical News Today outlined a number of helpful approaches from getting extra rest, drinking small amounts of liquid regularly, and having smaller meals than usual to taking ginger supplements and anti-nausea medication, and identifying and avoiding sickness triggers.
The University of California-Davis may have another solution. A recent study from its School of Medicine reports that probiotics can significantly improve the symptoms of pregnancy-related nausea.
Probiotics or beneficial bacteria, as the study noted, are increasingly popular today for all sorts of reasons, including their ability to support gut health. They are contained in foods like yogurt, kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut and tempeh. They can also be consumed via supplements.
It is known that hormones like estrogen and progesterone increase during pregnancy, which can lead to a host of physical changes, including transformations in an individual’s gut microbiome. This, in turn, can affect digestive systems, which results in nausea, vomiting and constipation.
Given this connection, the UC-Davis research team explored whether probiotics could ease gastrointestinal issues during pregnancy. The effort focused on 32 individuals who took probiotic capsules twice a day for six straight days and then skipped two days. The eight-day cycle was then repeated. Participants recorded 17 daily observations related to morning sickness symptoms.
The recording underscored a positive correlation between taking the probiotic capsules and reduced symptoms. Participants, for example, reported a 16 percent decline in the number of hours they were nauseous, while also reducing the number of times they vomited by 32 percent. They also reported more energy, better appetites and less constipation while taking the probiotics.
“Over the years, I’ve observed that probiotics can reduce nausea and vomiting and ease constipation. It’s very encouraging that the study proved this to be true,” reported Albert T. Liu, lead author for the study. “Probiotics have also benefited many of my other patients who weren’t in the study.”
The researchers were quick to note that their research is only a starting point because the sample size of the participants in the study is relatively small. But they stressed it could be an important launch point for helping women deal with morning sickness.
“Nausea, vomiting and constipation during pregnancy can significantly diminish the quality of patients’ lives. Once nausea and vomiting during pregnancy progress, they can become difficult to control, and sometimes the patient even needs to be hospitalized,” Liu explained.
“Our previous work showed the benefits of probiotics in preventing liver inflammation. The current study might be one of the first to show the benefits of probiotics in pregnancy,” said Professor Yu-Jui Yvonne Wan, Vice-Chair of Research at UC-Davis. “It would be interesting and important to further test whether probiotics can reduce nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy in cancer patients.”