At one time or another, most people have been struck by nausea. Some are queasy from chemotherapy. Others are experiencing a reaction to food, drugs, stress or motion sickness. Still others are pregnant moms suffering from around-the-clock morning sickness.
“Nausea has literally hundreds of causes,” explains Cynthia Ulreich, NP, a nurse practitioner at Henry Ford Health. “It’s a common symptom for everything from illnesses like reflux to changing hormones.”
Thankfully, that queasy feeling doesn’t have to derail you. Below, Ulreich shares a few anti-nausea remedies.
Nausea Remedies Explained
Nausea is not a disease in itself, but rather a symptom. Whether your stomach is rebelling because of pregnancy, acid reflux, medication or some other cause, these seven remedies may offer some relief:
- Chew ginger: Ginger has a storied history as a remedy for nausea, upset stomach and diarrhea. While scientists aren’t entirely clear why it works, they have noted that ginger has an anti-spasmodic effect in the gut. In fact, studies consistently show that ginger can help reduce pregnancy- and chemotherapy-induced nausea. Can’t tolerate the texture of raw ginger? Nibble on ginger snaps, sip on ginger ale (with real ginger) or make ginger tea.
- Put on the pressure: For centuries, Chinese medical practitioners have recognized that applying pressure at specific points on the body can help alleviate nausea and vomiting. Called acupressure, the technique stimulates certain nerves which in turn tells the brain to release nausea-relieving hormones. Studies suggest acupressure can help ease nausea caused by cancer treatment, acid reflux and other conditions. Can’t afford an acupressure session every time you’re nauseous? Consider wearing pressure bracelets. Available at your local pharmacy, these bracelets provide consistent pressure on a particular acupressure point on the wrist to reduce queasiness.
- Take a whiff: Inhaling specific scents, called aromatherapy, may also help calm a troubled tummy. “The scents help trick the nausea centers in the brain by providing it with new input,” says Ulreich. Lavender, lemon and peppermint are all mild scents that can have soothing effects. For best results, place a few drops in an essential oil diffuser or into a tissue and inhale the scent when you’re feeling nauseous. If you’re using oils on your skin, always dilute them with a carrier oil, such as coconut, jojoba, almond or olive oil.
- Get some fresh air: “Getting outside can increase feelings of well-being and help quiet nausea,” says Ulreich. Just a simple change of scenery can help shift your attention away from your queasy stomach.
- Breathe deep: Whether you breathe deeply for a few minutes, meditate or listen to a guided imagery track, moving air in and out of your lungs can help relieve nausea. It can also help you relax and release stress and anxiety.
- Suck on peppermint candy: Sucking on candy can be remarkably helpful. “One of the causes of nausea in cancer patients is how the drugs impact taste receptors,” says Ulreich. Sucking on candy and chewing gum can help alleviate the bad taste in your mouth that can trigger nausea.
- Consider meds: If nausea persists, talk to your doctor. Medication can wipe out symptoms up to 97 percent of the time.
Nausea Over the Long-Haul
Most of the time, nausea is a minor annoyance that goes away on its own. But if the queasiness doesn’t subside within a day or two, don’t be afraid to speak up.
“We have a number of different tools in our arsenal to treat nausea,” says Ulreich. “In addition to medications, complementary approaches, such as acupuncture and aromatherapy can help quiet symptoms.”
Of course, nausea (and vomiting) can also be a symptom of a more serious disease. If you’re suffering from severe abdominal pain, notice blood in your vomit or if you’re vomiting for more than 24 hours, seek medical attention at your doctor’s office, a walk-in clinic or the nearest emergency room, depending on the severity of your symptoms.
Cynthia Ulreich is an Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse Practitioner who works with cancer patients at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.