Nausea is the feeling one experiences just prior to vomiting. It is possible to experience nausea without vomiting, however; almost all people who vomit experience nausea. Nausea is a non-specific symptom that accompanies many other conditions. There are over 700 known conditions that cause nausea or have nausea as a symptom. The two most common causes of nausea are gastrointestinal infections and food poisoning.
The term nausea is derived from a Greek word for ship and originally referred to seasickness.
Medical treatment for nausea depends to some extent on the cause. There are three common anti-nausea medications prescribed. Ondansetron works by suppressing the vagus nerve which controls nausea centrally. The drug is a serotonin receptor antagonist (5-HT3). Metroclopramide is a dopamine receptor antagonist and also works centrally to control nausea. It also increases gastric emptying time. Promethazine is a H-1 blocker or antihistamine that also has central effects to control nausea.
All drugs used for nausea have the potential for serious side effects.
Ginger (Ginger Root)
A large medical study recently looked the use of ginger in preventing and treating nausea from chemotherapy. They found that every patient had a significant reduction in nausea after taking ginger. The improved occurred after the first dose as compared to a placebo group. Test subjects were given ¼ or ½ tsp. fresh or dry ginger. The results were the same for both amounts in both forms.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is obtained from the rhizome (root) and has used for centuries in Asia for its curative powers. It can be used fresh, dried, as a juice and as an oil. Most every kitchen has some powdered. Other conditions it is used include arthritis, gastrointestinal colic and heart disease.
Capsules: 250 mg four times daily as needed
Dried: ¼ to ½ teaspoon four times daily as needed
Can be used in powdered form or as a tea
Note 1: Gingersnaps (cookie) may work if made with real ginger, not ginger flavoring.
Note 2: Ginger has been found to be safely used in pregnancy. Limit total daily dose to 1 gm.
Baking Soda and Water (bicarb, bicarbonate of soda)
Baking soda chemically is sodium bicarbonate. It is an alkalizing agent used as an antacid to neutralize stomach acid. The over the counter antacids are some form of “bicarb”, either aluminum bicarbonate, magnesium bicarbonate or calcium bicarbonate. The use of sodium bicarbonate in water as a base with various other herbals as available has historically been called “gripe water” and used for colicky babies.
The first recorded use of sodium bicarbonate was in ancient Egypt where it was found in natural deposits of natron, a combination of sodium carbonate decahydrate and sodium bicarbonate. It was originally used as a soap. The first commercial production began in 1771 and was called soda ash.
Other medicinal uses include topical application for insect stings. It has an endothermic property and is applied to burns to prevent blistering. There are several uses in medicine as applied to adjusting body pH and in renal disease.
Risks of use are related to calcium excess or pH changes from ingesting too much. It can also precipitate calcium based kidney stones. The amount required to produce serious side effects is immense.
½ teaspoon baking soda in 4 oz. water four times daily as needed.
Note: Due to the potential sodium load contributing to edema (swelling) in pregnancy, check with doctor before using if pregnant.
Peppermint has been documented as a medicinal plant for over 10,000 years. It is a cross between two other mint species spearmint and watermint. The active ingredient in peppermint is menthol. It also contains menthone, methyl esters, eucalyptol and other aromatic compounds.
Menthol activates TRPM8 receptors in skin and mucous membranes. This is what gives the cooling sensation associated with mint. It is also likely the biochemical response in the gastrointestinal tract that provides relief from nausea.
Mint candies are provided in many restaurants because of their beneficial effects on gastrointestinal fullness, bloating and nausea. A large Italian study used Peppermint oil capsules to treat the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. The results showed a 75% improvement versus 38% with a placebo.
Tea: use dried leaves as an infusion and drink as needed. Works as well hot as an iced tea.
Oil of peppermint: a few drops in water and drink as needed. Also it can be effective as aroma therapy.
Candies: Helpful but watch sugar content.
Note: Considered safe to use in pregnancy.
Acupressure and acupuncture has been used in Asia for centuries to relieve pain, nausea and a variety of other health conditions. It is based on a system of meridians that were identified and have remained consistent over history. There has been ongoing debate about the validity of the practice, however; all states license acupuncturists and in Asia it remains as popular as other treatment options.
Multiple studies concerning the P6 meridian point for nausea and vomiting have been investigated with consistently positive findings. The studies have suggested that acupressure to this location is effective specifically for nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy and post surgically.
The P6 meridian point is located in a line called the pericardium meridian. The Chinese name for this location is Neiguan which translates to “inner gate.” The location is on the palmer side of the wrist about three fingerwidths (1 ½ inch) from the wrist crease.
Use the index and ring finger of the other hand as support on either side of the P6 meridian point. Use the middle finger and press firmly into the wrist for several minutes.
Repeat as needed.
Apple Cider Vinegar and Honey
This is another ancient remedy for nausea and was used by Hippocrates in 400 BC. Apple Cider Vinegar is produced from apple juice by a two-step fermentation process. Apple Cider Vinegar has many reported health benefits. Research has documented positive effects in diabetes, heart disease, lowering cholesterol, and in weight reduction. One study showed significant reduction in high blood pressure. Some research continues in its affects slowing the growth of certain cancer cells. It also helps the pain from a jellyfish sting.
When drinking Apple Cider Vinegar the addition of honey makes it more palatable.
Mix 1 tablespoon in 1 cup filtered water. Add honey to taste (usually about ½ teaspoon) mix and sip as needed.
Nausea is an uncomfortable symptom caused by many things. It can be associated with life threatening events like heart attack. If nausea persists or is accompanied by other symptoms seek a medical evaluation.