Natural Nausea Treatments
We’ve all been there. That queasy, uneasy, uncomfortable uncertainty—am I going to throw up? It’s horrible. Big Pharma’s in the game, of course. And some drugs are useful for extreme, nausea-causing conditions, like chemotherapy. But in most cases, natural remedies are better.
What causes nausea?
There are scores of conditions that can bring on nausea. Among the most common are:
- Motion sickness/seasickness
- Early stages of pregnancy
- Intense pain
- Emotional stress (such as fear)
- Gallbladder disease
- Food poisoning
- Acid reflux
What happens during nausea?
Nausea is an important defense mechanism for responding to the ingestion of poisons (i.e. spoiled food, chemicals or too much alcohol). Yet, for the myriad other causes, we have yet to really untangle the mechanisms responsible for it and the reactions as it progresses, often to vomiting.
We do know there’s a region in the brain called the area postrema, which measures the chemical composition of our blood, detecting any harmful substances that may be present.
And we know that if intruders are present, a series of incoming signals from several different sources in the body and brain reaches the area postrema, which “decodes” nausea signals to decide if it should tell the body to initiate vomiting.
We also know many natural ways to fend off or get rid of nausea—without it progressing to vomiting.
How should you manage nausea?
Nausea and vomiting can be signs of a very serious disorder that demands urgent medical attention. So, before taking steps to simply eliminate the feeling, it’s important to know whether your condition requires more attention.
Get emergency medical assistance if nausea and vomiting are accompanied by other warning signs, such as:
- Chest pain
- Severe headache, abdominal pain, or cramping
- Blurred vision
- Cold, clammy, pale skin
- High fever and stiff neck
- Blood, fecal material, or fecal odor in the vomit
Make an appointment with your doctor if:
- Vomiting lasts more than 2 days for adults, 24 hours for children under age 2, or 12 hours for infants
- You’ve had bouts of nausea and vomiting for longer than a month
- You’ve experienced unexplained weight loss along with nausea and vomiting
Take self-care measures while you wait for your appointment with your doctor:
- Under-do it. Take it easy. The usual hustle and bustle can make matters worse.
- Drink up. Stay hydrated by taking small sips of cold, clear water, lemonade, and especially ginger ale and mint tea.
- Avoid triggers. Food and cooking smells, perfume, smoke, stuffy rooms, heat, humidity, flickering lights, and driving can all trigger nausea and vomiting.
- Eat bland foods. Start with easily digested foods such as gelatin, crackers, and toast. When you can keep these down, try cereal, rice, fruit, and salty or high-protein, high-carbohydrate foods. Milk toast is an under-recognized remedy. Bread absorbs excess acid, while milk coats your stomach. Avoid fatty or spicy foods.
Natural remedies for nausea
Ginger has been used to quell nausea for centuries to:
- Reduce inflammation
- Stimulate circulation and production of specialized acid-neutralizing enzymes
- Relax stomach muscles and calm irritated stomach tissue
- Help your intestine move digested food and toxins through your system more quickly
Chew thin, peeled slices raw—careful, some varieties are spicy! You can also make tea or soup, get ginger ale, or chew ginger capsules.
Peppermint is another old-timer with a lot to give. It works in your stomach like ginger, and you can consume it like ginger—tea, other drinks, chewing. Be sure to give it plenty of steeping time—at least 15 minutes, covered, to get the best out of it.
Acupressure recognizes a specific spot in the body where pressure releases neurotransmitters—serotonin and endorphins, for example—that counteract nausea. You can do it yourself by pressing on the p6 point. It’s 2 or 3 finger widths down from the crease in your wrist at the base of your palm—between the two large tendons you can feel.
With your palm facing up, press with your thumb and index finger on the p6 point on both sides of your wrist. Hold for 10-30 seconds, or up to 5 minutes, and breathe deeply. There are wristbands that stimulate the same point—Britain’s Royal Navy uses them.
Upper body stretching can relieve the tension and pain in the neck or upper back that often cause recurrent nausea. Lie face-down on the floor, like you’re about to do push-ups. A yoga mat is optional, but a lot more comfortable. Instead of lifting up your whole mid-section, i.e., from your waist, use your arms to lift up only your upper body, from the bottom of your ribcage. Gently arch your back, tilting your head back as far as possible, so the underside of your chin faces the ceiling. Hold for 20 seconds, then slowly relax.
Use common and uncommon scents. One or more of these lovely scents can relieve nausea. They’re most potent as essential oils—but slowly and deeply inhaling and exhaling the scent of a fresh lemon, or the blossoms or leaves of any of the following botanicals can work quick wonders.
- Spearmint, peppermint
One of the fastest anti-nausea solutions is to rub a few drops of an essential oil on your gums. Be sure the label says application to soft tissue is OK—some oils are too intense for that, and can cause burning or discomfort.
Cool out with a cool—not cold—compress on the back of your neck. It can give you a welcome nausea pause. It works best when combined with the stretches I covered earlier.
Suck on frozen fruit, with slices, for example, of frozen lime or lemon you keep in your freezer in a plastic bag. When that dreaded feeling comes on, the sharp flavor of a wedge of lemon or lime can help fend it off. Pretend it’s a popsicle, and release its cold juice slowly down the hatch.
Use air power. Sometimes fresh air is all you need. It can be as simple as moving to a different environment. Another way is to get air flowing over you with a fan. Place the fan so that it blows gently across your face. Having it oscillate (or turn) can make this more pleasant.
Drinks containing sugar can calm nausea. While white sugar is the enemy of health, I make an exception here. A carbonated soda that’s gone flat can deliver relief, but at room temperature, not cold. Or heat a half-cup of white sugar and a quarter-cup of water in a saucepan on medium, and stir steadily until it’s a clear syrup. Once it cools, take 1 or 2 teaspoons as needed. Do this only after other remedies have failed. Sugar is bad.
Create additional protection
Just a reminder that overall good health will protect you against all bad health threats. In this context, a strong immune system will catch more nausea-causing intruders than a weak one. And a well-fed, well-exercised physical body will have just such a stronger immune system.
It’s all connected in a big, beautiful dance.
Be the best possible partner…for you.
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- Horn, Charles. “Why is the neurobiology of nausea and vomiting so important?” Appetite. 2008; 50(2-3): 430–434. Published October 11, 2007. Last accessed February 10, 2017.
- “Medicines for Nausea” Published June 5, 2015. Last accessed February 10, 2017.
- Loren (sic). “5 Essential Oil Based Remedies for Nausea / Vomiting / Upset Stomach” Essential Oil Sanctuary. Published June 7, 2015. Last accessed February 10, 2017.
- “Natural Home Remedies: Nausea” Published NA. Last accessed February 10, 2017
- Ismail, Mohammed. “Central Properties and Chemical Composition of Ocimum basilicum. Essential Oil” Taylor & Frank. Published online October 7, 2008, pp 619-626. Last accessed February 10, 2017.