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Pre-Internet vs.

Post-Internet Natural Remedies Used During Pregnancy by
Those in the Greater Little Rock Area

Donetha Groover
djgroover@ualr.edu

Abstract

The Internet has changed the way information is shared. Information from around
the world is available in an instant. Has this had an effect on the natural remedies
that women use while pregnant? I was curious to see if having access to many
other cultures and people would bring about a change in the remedies taken while
pregnant. In this study I reached out to friends living in the Greater Little Rock area
using social media. I had 14 responses. Pregnancy years ranged from 1973 to
2016. The findings in this study showed that women still rely on information
gathered from friends. Also, this study showed that remedies, and the reasons for
searching out natural remedies, have not changed much, if at all.

Background

In 2014 (latest year information was available) 3,988,076 babies were born in the
United States9. At least 29% of the mothers giving birth used CAM, or natural
medications while pregnant8. Often times pregnant women do not want to use
conventional medicine for fear that it may travel through the placenta and harm the
fetus. There are also no prescription medications that are meant specifically for
treating many of the problems (morning sickness, stretchmarks, etc.) associated
with pregnancy5. Thus, many women turn to natural remedies.
The rise of the Internet has meant that people have been able to communicate with
someone across the world in seconds. Vast stores of knowledge, including natural
remedies used by other cultures, are available for anyone to seek out. This study
was intended to see if the use of the Internet has brought different natural remedies
into the lives of its pregnant users.

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The Internet was started in 1969 and was used mainly for defense. In the 1970s it
was expanded and became a way for scientists and researchers to collaborate and
share data. Slowly the concept of a worldwide network of connected computers
kept growing and spreading. Then in 1996 AOL changed everything. Their payment
plans went from an hourly rate, to a flat monthly fee 2. At that point the Internet
became more accessible to people and the dot com boom was on. In 1996 only .9%
of the world’s population was on the Internet. In 1997 that numbered jumped to
1.7%. Now in 2016 49.2% of the people in the world are on the Internet 7. Due to
phenomenal jump in numbers between 1996 and 1997, I chose 1996 as the
demarcation between pre-Internet and post-Internet.
International studies have been done on what natural remedies are commonly used
during pregnancy. One of the most common remedies used for morning sickness is
a plant that belongs to the Zingiberacea family - Zingiber officinale Roscoe,
otherwise known as ginger. Z. officinale is native to Southeast Asia. The country of
India is the biggest cultivator of the plant. Ginger grows to be about 4 feet tall and
has pink and white clusters of flowers. It is the rhizome that is used for food and
medicine. Harvesting greatly depends on what the rhizome is going to be used for.
At 5 months old the rhizome is not mature and that makes it great for use either as
a fresh ingredient or to be pickled. At 8 months the rhizome is harvested to be used
for dry ginger. After 9 months of growth is the time to harvest the rhizome if it is to
be used for essential oils6.
In the United States ginger, and specifically ginger ale, has been used for upset
stomachs since the late 1800s4. In China ginger has been used since at least 500
B.C. when Confucius wrote about its properties 10. Many studies have been done on
the effectiveness of ginger for morning sickness. Most of these studies show that Z.
officinale is more effective than Dramamine, and as effective as vitamin B 6. The
mechanism through which ginger works to prevent vomiting is still unclear. There is
some evidence that it may block serotonin receptors and act on the gastrointestinal
system directly. The best thing about using ginger to alleviate morning sickness is
that there are no reported side effects, unless there is an allergy to it 1.

Methods

Area of Study
Little Rock is in Pulaski County, Arkansas and is the state capitol. This study was
conducted in the greater Little Rock Area which includes the towns of Jacksonville,
North Little Rock, Jacksonville Air Force Base, Cabot, Sherwood, Bryant, Benton, and
Maumelle. Population of this area continues to grow, and due in part to the Air
Force base, there is constant movement of people, the majority of whom are in their
childbearing years.
Research Participants

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For this study the requirements that needed to be met to participate included being
a woman, and having been pregnant at some point. Age, ethnicity, years that
pregnancy occurred, education, jobs, and various other factors did not exclude
participation. Years that pregnancy occurred in respondents ranged from 1976 –
2016. States where the participants were living at the time of pregnancy included
Arizona, Arkansas, California, Missouri, North Dakota, and Washington. Maternal
age during pregnancy ranged from 21-39.

Research Techniques
In order to garner participants for the study I reached out on social media,
specifically Facebook. I created a post explaining my question and asking if anyone
would consent to take a survey. I then tagged all of my friends who I knew to have
had children. When friends responded that they would like to participate I sent
them a questionnaire to fill out via private message. I had planned to get at least
20 responses. Unfortunately, only 14 people responded. Questions included
sociological questions, such as age at time of pregnancy and state that the
participant was living in at the time, as well as open ended questions asking about
natural remedies used during pregnancy. Where the respondents heard about the
remedy was also asked.
Once it was clear that there was not going to be any more responses I copied the
information down on index cards. One card per pregnancy. This means that those
who had multiple pregnancies had multiple cards. The cards were then indexed by
year. In order to separate pre-Internet pregnancies from post-Internet responses a
cut off year needed to be decided on. After research on the history of the Internet I
choose 1996 as the year that would be used to denote pre and post pregnancies
(Figure 1). Information was then transferred into Microsoft Word and Excel to create
tables and charts.
Since all surveys were conducted via the Internet no voucher specimens were
collected. I was unable to come across any of the plants mentioned by participants,
and many of the natural remedies did not include plants at all (such as
acupuncture).

Results and Discussion

Remedies Used
Collectively the 14 women interviewed came up with 20 natural remedies used over
the course of 32 pregnancies (Table 1). This study corresponds to others that show
that ginger, or Z. officinale., is the most popular natural medicine that pregnant
women use (Figure 2). 6 of the 14 women used ginger, usually in more than one
form. Some of the forms in which ginger was used included tea, soda, chews, and
candy. All of these remedies accounted for 16% of the total in this study. In all

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cases where ginger was used it was for the purpose of morning sickness. Morning
sickness was the primary reason that these women searched out natural remedies
(Figure 3). 44% of the remedies used by participants in this study were to combat
morning sickness.
Tying for second place in popularity were saltine crackers and cocoa butter (Figure
2). Each had 3 women who reported using these remedies during pregnancy (Table
1). Saltine crackers were used as a remedy against morning sickness, while cocoa
butter was used to fight stretch marks. Combating stretch marks was the number
two reason, with 23%, that a natural remedy was used (Figure 3).
In third place were citrus fruits, vitamin E, essential oils, and pressure bands. Each
of these remedies had 2 women who had tried using them (Table 1). Citrus fruits
were used to try and treat morning sickness, as was the pressure bands. Pressure
bands are elastic wristbands with a plastic ball that presses into a person’s inner
wrist about 3 fingers width down from the crease on the wrist. In between the large
tendons located in that portion of the wrist there is believed to be an acupressure
point that will inhibit nausea3. The essential oils were used to alleviate headaches,
stress, and itching. Vitamin E was used as a lotion to minimize stretch marks.
Other remedies for morning sickness that were used by participants in this study
were chamomile flower tea, graham crackers, and vitamin B. Sepia was reported to
be used for hormones. Black tea was used for a toothache. Lemon honey was used
for a cold. Mother’s Milk tea and peppermint was used for overall well-being. Prune
juice was used for constipation. Anemia was fought with mint chlorophyll and an
iron fish. An iron fish is a piece of iron shaped like a fish that you place into food
while cooking. It is believed that the iron will transfer into the food, and thus be
ingested. Acupuncture was used to try and stop pre-mature contractions.
Source of Information
Pre-Internet natural remedies came from three different sources: friends, family, and
finding out on their own. 62.5% of natural remedies at this time came from friends
(Figure 1). Information from family came in second place. Lastly, was trial and error
by doing things alone.
Post-Internet natural remedies came from 8 different sources: friends, family, books,
doctors, midwife, herbalist, store, and Internet. Friends were the source of most
information – 31.5% (Figure 1). Surprisingly, in second place with 25.7% was
obtaining information from a midwife. In third place was both family and books.
The Internet came in fourth place. Only 2 of the women questioned got information
from the Internet. Their pregnancies were in 2010 and 2016. Rounding out the
bottom was the doctor, the herbalist, and the store.

Conclusion

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Null hypothesis: The Internet has made no difference in types of natural remedies
used during pregnancy or where information about remedies came from.
Alternate hypothesis: The Internet has made a difference in types of natural
remedies used during pregnancy and where information about remedies came from.
As it turns out this study proved the null hypothesis to be correct. The source
turned to most to find natural remedies was friends. Comparing figure 1 and 4 it is
easy to see that friends make up the majority. What is interesting to note, is that
pre-Internet there was no use of ginger (Table 2). Yet the use of Z. officinale is the
most popular of natural remedies (Figure 2). There is a possibility that due to the
uneven numbers of pre and post Internet pregnancies that results may not be exact
(7 vs 25).
Some interesting questions arose from this study. It may prove useful to take this
further in a future study. For instance, breaking it up into not only pre and postInternet, but those who grew up during the time of the Internet, and those who did
not have the Internet growing up. Is there a difference in the use of the Internet as
a source of information between those two groups? Does growing up with the
technology make it seem more reliable than friends as a source of natural
remedies?
Morning sickness is still the number one problem that women are looking for help
with, followed by stretch marks. It seems that women want to hear from people
they know, who have tried the product for themselves, when looking for natural
remedies to use during pregnancy.

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank the 14 woman who agreed to undertake my survey. I would
also like to thank the community of Greater Little Rock for being such a welcoming
place for those moving here. Thanks must also be sent out to Facebook for allowing
people to connect, even when schedules are too busy to do so face to face.
Appreciation must also be given to Dr. Cassandra Quave for guiding and overseeing
my research.

References

1. Bode, A. & Dong, Z. (2011). The Amazing and Mighty Ginger. CRC Press/Taylor
& Francis. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92775/
2. Brief History of the Internet - Internet Timeline | Internet Society. (2016).
Internetsociety.org. Retrieved 27 July 2016, from

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http://www.internetsociety.org/internet/what-internet/history-internet/briefhistory-internet
3. Dolan, D. & Zissu, A. (2006). The complete organic pregnancy. New York:
Collins.
4. Ginger Ale History & The History of Ginger Ale - GingerAleAuthority.com.
(2016). GingerAleAuthority.com. Retrieved 27 July 2016, from
http://gingeraleauthority.com/ginger-ale-history/
5. Holst, L., Wright, D., Haavik, S., & Nordeng, H. (2009). The Use and the User
of Herbal Remedies During Pregnancy. The Journal of Alternative and
Complementary Medicine, 15(7), 787-792.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/acm.2008.0467
6. II, A. (2016). Making Ginger. Indepthinfo.com. Retrieved 27 July 2016, from
http://www.indepthinfo.com/ginger/production.shtml
7. Internet Growth Statistics - the Global Village Online. (2016).
Internetworldstats.com. Retrieved 27 July 2016, from
http://www.internetworldstats.com/emarketing.htm
8. Kennedy, D., Lupattelli, A., Koren, G., & Nordeng, H. (2013). Herbal medicine
use in pregnancy: results of a multinational study. BMC Complementary and
Alternative Medicine, 13(1). http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1472-6882-13-355
9. NVSS - Birth Data. (2016). Cdc.gov. Retrieved 27 July 2016, from
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/births.htm
10.Whitney, M. (2016). History of Ginger. Herballegacy.com. Retrieved 27 July
2016, from http://www.herballegacy.com/Whitney_History.html

Table 1 – Data by Participant
Participant

Year(s)
Pregnant

Age During
Pregnancy

Location
During
Pregnancy

Natural
Remedy
Used

1

1990
1996
2002
2004

21
27
32
34

AR
AR
AR
AR

2

1991
1995

21
24

CA
CA

3

1997
1998
2004
2005
2009

26
27
33
34
38

AZ
AZ
AZ
AZ
AZ

4

1998
2001

27
31

AZ
AZ

Cocoa
Butter



Cocoa
Butter

None
Ginger
Candy
Ginger Tea
Vitamin B
Sea Bands
None

6

Where
Heard
About
Remedy
Friend



Grandmoth
er

Doctor
Friends
Friends
Friends
Friends
-

5

2005
1999

35
24

AZ
CA

6

2002
2004
2006
2009

23
25
28
31

MO
MO
MO
MO

7

2002
2004
2015
2010

26
28
29
35

WA
WA
WA
WA

8
9

2009
1973
1978

39
23
28

WA
CA
CA

10

2016

24

CA

11

2009

34

CA

12

2010

34

CA

7


Ginger Tea
Graham
Crackers
Black Tea
Lemon
honey
Ginger Pop
Ginger Tea
Sepia
Mothers
Milk
Pregnancy
Tea
Peppermint
Iron Fish
Chamomile
Tea
Lavender,
Peppermint,
Eucalyptus
mix
Coconut Oil
Mint
Chlorophyll
Acupunctur
e
Prune Juice
Saltines
Mothers
Helper
Citrus Fruit
Ginger
Chews
Cocoa
Butter
Fresh
Ginger
Ginger
Candy
Ginger Ale
Pressure
Bracelet
Vit. E
Lavender
Oil

Midwife



Friends
Friends
Midwife
Midwife
Midwife
Friends
Midwife

Friends
Book

Book
Herbalist
Doctor

Parent
Friends
Friends
Pregnancy
App
Friends
Friends

Mother-inlaw


Saw in
Store
Book
Internet

13

1975

22

CA

14

1997
2002

23
28

AZ
ND

Saltines
Lemons
Vit. E
Saltines
Ginger Ale

Friends
On Own
Grandparen
t
Parent
Book

Table 2 – Data by Year
1973
1975
1978
1990
1991
1995
1996
1997

Saltines
Saltines
Lemons
Mothers Helper
Cocoa Butter
Cocoa Butter
Cocoa Butter
Cocoa Butter
Vitamin E
Saltines
Ginger Ale
None

1998

Ginger Tea
None

1999

Ginger Tea
Graham Crackers
Black Tea
Lemon Honey
None

2001
2002

2004

2005

2006

Ginger Pop
Ginger Tea
Cocoa Butter
Chamomile Flower Tea
Ginger Ale
Cocoa Butter
Vitamin B
Sepia
Lavender, Peppermint,
Eucalyptus Oil mixture
Sea Bands
None
Coconut Oil
Mint Chlorophyll
Sepia

8

Friends
Friends
On Own
Friends
Friends
Grandmother
Grandmother
Friends
Grandparent
Parent
Book
Doctor prescribed meds
only
Friends
Doctor prescribed meds
only
Midwife
Midwife
Midwife
Midwife
Doctor prescribed meds
only
Friends
Friends
Friends
Friends
Book
Friends
Friends
Midwife
Book
Friends
Doctor prescribed meds
only
Book
Herbalist
Midwife

Mothers Milk
Pregnancy Tea
Peppermint
Iron Fish
Prune Juice
Ginger Chews
Cocoa Butter
Acupuncture
Fresh Ginger
Ginger Candy
Pressure Bracelets
Vitamin E
Lavender Oil
Citrus Fruit

2009

2010

2016

Midwife
Midwife
Friends
Midwife
Parent
Friends
Friends
Doctor
Mother-in-law
Mother-in-law
Saw in Store
Book
Internet
Pregnancy App

Figure 1 - Percentages of Where Information Was Obtained
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0

Friends

On Own

Family

Book

Doctor

Pre-Internet

Midwife Herbalist

Post-Internet

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Store

Internet

Figure 2 - Natural Remedies Used
Sepia; 14%

Ginger; 16%

Vitamin E; 5%
Pressure Bands; 5%

Other; 14%

Citrus; 5%
Saltines; 6%

Cocoa Butter; 13%

Oils; 6%
None; 8%Tea; 8%
Ginger

Other

Cocoa Butter

Tea

None

Oils

Saltines

Citrus

Pressure Bands

Vitamin E

Sepia

Figure 3 - Reasons For Natural Remedy Use
Other; 22%

Stretch Marks; 23%

Anemia; 5%
Overall Wellbeing; 6%

Morning Sickness; 44%
Stretch Marks

Morning Sickness

Anemia

Other

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Overall Wellbeing

Figure 4 - Where Information On Remedy was Found

On Own; 2% Herbalist; 2% Store; 2% Doctor; 2%Friends; 37%
Book; 12%

Internet; 5%

Family; 17%

Midwife; 21%
Friends

Midwife

Family

Book

On Own

Herbalist

Store

Doctor

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Internet