You’ve most likely experienced the unpleasant feeling of nausea once or twice (or maybe more) in your life, mainly because it can arise for numerous reasons. From sicknesses to pregnancy, or even stress, this condition could have a number of triggers. But when it does arise, do you know how to deal with this unpleasant feeling?
There may be numerous reasons why it strikes, but the good news is there are many ways to get rid of nausea. This article will shed light on different strategies for alleviating nausea, so it won’t impact your day-to-day tasks. Discover home remedies that can treat or relieve this common health issue, so you can be ready whenever it strikes.
What Is Nausea?
Medical News Today defines nausea as “an unpleasant sensation of discomfort or unease in the stomach (queasy stomach), accompanied by an urge to vomit.”1 Other symptoms of nausea include stomach cramping and excessive salivation.2
Sometimes, nausea and vomiting are interchanged as being the same, but actually these are two different terminologies referring to two different conditions. Vomiting is when you expel the contents of your stomach, whether forcibly or involuntarily.3 While there can be rare exceptions, vomiting is usually preceded by nausea. On the other hand, it is possible to feel nauseated but not to vomit.4
What Causes Nausea?
The causes of nausea and vomiting are similar.5 Both these conditions can affect people of any age, whether adults or children. Cleveland Clinic notes that undergoing certain medical treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy may also cause nausea and vomiting.6 Pregnant women, too, are prone to nausea.
While it is unpleasant, nausea is not a disease, though it could be one of the symptoms of a disease.7 Hence, knowing what triggers it is crucial in alleviating this symptom. Nausea can be triggered by diseases or medical conditions, such as:8
- Food poisoning like Salmonella
- Gallbladder disease
- Infections such as gastroenteritis, aka “stomach flu”
- Brain tumor
- Heart attack
- Inner ear problems (vertigo, labyrinthitis or motion sickness)9
There are also psychological factors that may lead to nausea, such as anxiety10 or social phobia. Anorexia nervosa and bulimia (wherein self-induced vomiting is a hallmark symptom) are also potential triggers.11 Taking certain medications may lead to nausea as side effect. Examples include aspirin, erythromycin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and blood pressure drugs.12
Morning Sickness and Hangover: 2 Other Common Causes of Nausea
As mentioned above, pregnant women are at risk of nausea, mainly because of the many changes happening in their body. In fact, nausea is one of the earliest symptoms of pregnancy, affecting over 50% of expectant women. It’s also known as “morning sickness,” and may or may not be accompanied by vomiting.13
In most women, morning sickness stops after the first trimester. It’s not harmful, but if it occurs severely, it could indicate a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum. This can be dangerous if left unaddressed, as it can lead to nutrient deficiency for you and your child.14
Another common trigger of nausea is alcohol intake. This occurs because alcohol irritates your stomach lining, leads to dehydration and expands your blood vessels.15 The best thing to do to avoid a hangover is not to drink in the first place — or to at least limit your drinks to just one — but if you do imbibe, there are ways to effectively deal with a hangover. For helpful tips on dealing with hangover nausea and other symptoms, check out this How to Get Rid of a Hangover infographic.
6 Home Remedies for Nausea
Conventional treatments for nausea include taking antiemetic drugs, which work by obstructing certain neurotransmitters in the body.16 However, antiemtics can lead to a number of side effects, some of which may be worse than nausea — examples include blurry vision, severe hypotension and hypersensitivity.17
Instead of relying on these drugs, you can turn to natural remedies for nausea, some of which may be found in your home:
• Ginger — This ancient herb has been used widely for its antiemetic properties. Using ginger is a safe way to ease nausea particularly during pregnancy.18 It’s also been found effective against motion sickness.19 You can use fresh or dried ginger, or in forms such as capsules, tablets and liquid extracts.20 Sipping on ginger tea is a popular way to get the nausea-relieving benefits of this plant.
• Peppermint and spearmint — You can make use of peppermint or spearmint oil, or enjoy a freshly brewed cup of tea using these herbs. A study has found that giving peppermint and spearmint capsules to cancer patients may help ease the nausea that comes with chemotherapy, thanks to the beneficial compounds in these plants.21
• Chamomile tea — A study found that chamomile, along with ginger capsules, may also have beneficial effects against nausea during chemotherapy.22 One of the easiest ways to reap this benefit is to brew and sip on freshly brewed chamomile tea. Read more about chamomile tea and why it’s a popular beverage that is well-loved by many people today.
• Lemon — The tart flavor and citrusy scent of lemons is said to be effective in easing the nausea and vomiting brought on by pregnancy23 There are many ways you can use this citrus fruit:
◦ Place a few freshly cut lemon wedges in a plastic bag and inhale the scent.24
◦ Suck on a lemon wedge or sip lemon juice or very tart lemonade25
◦ Crush a few peeled lemon seeds with a mortar and pestle and mix with honey to make a fine paste and ingest.26
• Vitamin B6 supplement — A 2013 study found that taking a 40-milligram dose of vitamin B6 daily helped ease nausea among pregnant women just as efficiently as ginger did.27
• Acupressure — A traditional healing art that is based on acupuncture, acupressure involves applying pressure to certain “acupoints” in your body to relieve tension and boost blood circulation. For nausea, you will need to target the pressure point P-6, or Nei guan, found in your inner wrist. The Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Cancer Center shares these steps on how to do acupressure to ease nausea:28
1. Position your hand in a way that your palm is facing you and your fingers are pointing upward.
2. Put the three middle fingers of your other hand across your wrist, just below the palm. Put your thumb on the inside of your wrist, just below your index finger. There should be two large tendons under your thumb — this is pressure point P-6.
3. Press on P-6 for two to three minutes using your thumb or forefinger. This should be done in a circular motion. The pressure should be firm, but not so hard that it hurts.
4. Repeat this on your other wrist.
You Can Use Essential Oils for Nausea, Too
As mentioned, ginger, lemon and mints like peppermint and spearmint all have antiemetic effects, so it makes sense that their essential oils also provide this benefit. However, if you don’t have these essential oils on hand, you can turn to other types that may prove to have nausea-relieving effects as well.
One example is lavender oil. This essential oil may help ease nausea, especially if its triggers involve pain or anxiety.29 To use lavender oil, simply add a few drops to a basin of cool water and then soak a washcloth in it. Use this as a forehead compress.30 According to “The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy,” other oils that may help ease nausea include:31
- Cardamom oil
- Grapefruit oil
- Frankincense Oil
- Petitgrain oil
- Sweet orange oil
Essential oils for nausea may work when diffused, inhaled or applied topically. Remember that these oils are highly concentrated and should be diluted in a safe carrier oil like coconut or jojoba oil prior to use. Do a skin patch test before applying the oil blend to large areas of your skin, so you will know if you have any sensitivities to the oil. Do not ingest essential oils without the advice of a health care expert, especially if you’re pregnant or suffering from any illness.
Other Helpful Tips to Manage Nausea and Vomiting
Nausea can be uncomfortable and distressing, but if you try the home remedies above, you may be able to break free from its unpleasant grip. Remember these other tips to help manage this symptom:32,33
• If your nausea comes with vomiting, make sure to drink plenty of water to replenish your fluids. This will help you avoid dehydration. If it’s difficult to keep liquids down, take small sips.
• Stay away from strong smells and fragrances. They can trigger nausea.
• Relax and avoid moving too much. Sudden and intense movement may worsen nausea.
• Control your breathing. Taking in slow and steady deep breaths can help ease nausea.
• Sit upright. This will help support your digestion and relieve nausea. Do not bend backward or forward.
• Opt for smaller and more frequent meals instead of two or three heavy ones. Opt for light, bland foods and stay away from greasy, sweet or fried foods.
Most of the time, nausea and vomiting are harmless and can be resolved with home remedies. However, if there are indications of a bigger health problem, it may be best to consult with your physician. Have yourself checked if you notice symptoms along with nausea and vomiting, such as:34
- Vomiting for more than 24 hours
- Signs of severe dehydration, such as infrequent urination, dry mouth or dark-colored urine
- Severe abdominal pain
- Intense headache and stiff neck
- Blood in the vomit
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Nausea
Q: How can you stop nausea and vomiting without pharmaceutical drugs?
A: There are home remedies you can turn to that can safely ease nausea and vomiting. Lemon, ginger, mints like spearmint and peppermint and vitamin B6 supplements may help with this uncomfortable problem. You can also try acupressure.
Q: What should I eat for nausea?
A: Sucking on a piece of lemon wedge or a drinking tart lemon juice may help ease nausea.35 It’s also best to eat light and bland foods and avoid greasy fried foods. Opt for small meals instead of large ones.36
Q: Can nausea be a sign of cancer?
A: According to Cancer Treatment Centers of America, there are some cases when stomach cancer may cause nausea and vomiting.37
Q: How should you sleep when you’re nauseated?
A: According to WebMD, sleeping with your head higher than your feet is an ideal position if you feel nauseated. Also remember not to lie down after eating.38