We all have been nauseated at some point or the other. It is a sensation or feeling that you may start “throwing up” or vomit at any given instance. It is not a disease per se, but it is usually a symptom of an underlying condition.
Causes of Nausea
Nausea can have any of the following triggers:
- Gastritis or gastric inflammation. It can be caused by any of the following:
- Food poisoning: This is caused when you eat food that is contaminated with harmful bacteria. The most common ones are Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella enterica, Clostridium botulinum and Coli.
- Gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD): This is caused when stomach acids are hurled back into the esophagus, usually because of a weak sphincter. Besides nausea, one may feel the symptoms of acid reflux as well.
- Peptic ulcer: It is caused when there is a mild irritation on the interior of the stomach lining.
- Stomach infection/flu: This occurs when there is a viral infection in the stomach. It is usually accompanied with fever, chills and a severe abdominal pain, along with nausea.
- Irritants: There have been documented cases of alcohol or even cigarette smoke to cause a gastric inflammation, ultimately resulting in nausea.
- Certain medications, such as chemotherapy medications are known to have nausea as a documented side-effect. Some people may face nausea after taking an over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever, such as aspirin or ibuprofen.
- Motion sickness
- An obstruction in the bowels
- Post-operative sickness: Sometimes people feel nauseated after undergoing a major operations. It is usually a reaction to the intra-venous medication or to general anesthesia.
- Physical discomfort: A pain in the neck or the lower-back can trigger as bout of nausea as well!
Home Remedies for Nausea
Nausea is one of the most common ailments of the human condition and can be easily brought under control with the help of the following home remedies.
- Get some rest
If your body is fighting off an infection you are aware of and your nausea is being caused by the same disease, it is best to get some rest, while your energy is focused on fighting off the infection. Exerting yourself may mean that you have to live longer with the disease, which can be detrimental in the long term, not to mention the increased bouts of nausea.
If your nausea is being caused by motion-sickness, which may be triggered by travelling on a road with frequent twists and turns or even by certain video games, then laying down and closing one’s eyes can help overcome the bouts of nausea.
- Breathing exercises
Dr. Jeffrey Gross and his nurse Lynn Anderson from the University of Connecticut, School of Medicine were studying the effect of aromatherapy on reducing nausea. They divided volunteers suffering from post-operative nausea (PON) into three groups. The first group was given a gauze pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol), the second group was given a gauze pad dipped in peppermint essential oil and the third group was given a gauze pad dipped in a saline solution, used as a placebo. All participants were asked to take deep breaths via the gauze. Surprisingly, about 87% of the volunteers from all the groups (including the placebo) reported an improvement in their condition.
This conclusively proved to the aforementioned researchers that taking deep breaths go a long way towards overcoming nausea. Can be safely used for nausea during pregnancy.
Your spice drawer is an absolute treasure trove when it comes to finding cures for nausea. Following are some of the spices that you can use:
- Aniseed: You can add ¼ teaspoon of aniseed to ½ a cup of boiling water and let it steep for about 10 minutes. Strain the liquid and gently sip it. You may also sprinkle some aniseed powder on boiled vegetables (carrots, pumpkins, etc.) or baked fruits (apples, pears etc.) before consuming them.
- Cinnamon: If you are not pregnant, then this can be an ideal remedy for you. Simply boil a cup of water, add half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder, steep for five minutes, strain and sip!
- Fennel: Prepared and enjoyed the same way that you would for the cinnamon tea, except you use 1 tablespoon of crushed fennel seeds. You can also add a teaspoon of honey for added taste.
- Cumin: Prepared the same way as the cinnamon tea, except the concentration should be 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds for every cup of cumin tea. You may also add a pinch of nutmeg.
- Cloves: Prepared exactly the same way as the cumin tea!
- Bitters and Soda
This cure for nausea has its roots in the UK, where bartenders have been serving this for several decades as a cure for nausea. Most of the bitters contain anywhere between 40 – 45% alcohol by weight, hence if your bout of nausea is caused by alcohol then it may not be very helpful. However, it works for practically every other case of nausea. This is because most of these bitters are concocted by mixing several herbs such as cinnamon, fennel, ginger, mint etc. that have been well-documented as a cure for nausea.
This remedy is not suitable for pregnant women for obvious reasons.
If your wave of nausea is being caused by gastro-intestinal issues then peppermint, like ginger can go a long way in terms of alleviating an inflamed stomach. This is because menthol, the key component in peppermint has analgesic properties, which may help soothe an irritated tummy. You can chew on some peppermint leaves, or suck on an organic peppermint candy, but anecdotal evidence suggests that the best way to go about it would be to consume some peppermint tea. You can easily make some with the help of the following steps:
- Boil about two cups of water.
- Once the water has reached the boiling point, add two tablespoons of dried peppermint leaves and let the solution stand for about 20 minutes.
- Take a clean cup and add a teaspoon of honey to it.
- Strain and pour the peppermint tea into the cup and mix the honey thoroughly.
Just like in the case of the ginger tea mentioned earlier in this article, the honey has been added for taste only and can be skipped, if desired.
Lemons have been suggested as a cure for nausea over centuries and the anecdotal evidence suggests that it is highly effective. There are several ways in which you can incorporate lemons to cure nausea. Following are some of the most common ones:
- Take a slice of lemon, place it relatively close to your nostrils and take deep breaths. The citric aroma will soothe you and will help the nausea pass.
- Put lemon wedges in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Take them out and start sucking on them. The aroma and the intense citric taste will wake your senses and will distract you from the nausea.
- You can mix one teaspoon of lemon juice and one teaspoon of honey and mix them together. Slowly lick the mixture with your fingers to not consume the mixture too quickly and ease the feelings of nausea.
- Take a cup of water, mix 10 drops of lime juice, ½ a teaspoon of sugar and ¼ teaspoon of baking soda and drink it. Anecdotal evidence suggests that this can cure nausea really quick!
- Hydrate Yourself
You can be nauseated after a night of hard-partying, or if you have undergone some strenuous activity where you lost a lot of fluids. In such a case, you may be dehydrated, which has the following symptoms, besides nausea:
- Dark urine
- Dry mouth
In such instances, you need to hydrate yourself to get rid of nausea. However, while you do so, you need to remember the following:
- Do not drink the water too fast. Take small sips so that your body can gently absorb the water. Drinking too much water can make you feel bloated and ironically enough, can make you feel even more nauseated.
- In case of dehydration, avoid ice-cold liquids and only drink fluids that are cool, at room temperature or even lukewarm.
- You can alternate between drinking water and sports drinks such as Gatorade, Powerade, Propel, Lucozade Plus, Pocari Sweat etc.
Ginger can help relieve symptoms of nausea because of two main reasons:
- Gingerol, which is one of the enzymes in ginger tends to soothe the stomach lining and the central nervous system.
- It is known to have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce the amount of stomach acids and cure the irritation that may be behind the nausea.
You should incorporate more ginger in your diet to get long-term relief from nausea. Eating Indian food more often is probably the easiest way to do that, as ginger forms the base of almost all curries. Most health food stores carry ginger supplements as well and the recommended dosage for the same is about 500 mg per day. Health stores also carry ginger candies in crystallized sugar, which you may consider.
You can take a teaspoon of grated ginger and mix a teaspoon of onion juice in it. It is highly unpalatable, but is an effective treatment for nausea.
Ginger tea is a slightly less drastic, but effective remedy for nausea. To make the tea you will need the following ingredients.
- An inch of ginger root
- Honey (1 teaspoon)
- Nutmeg (a pinch)
- Drinking water (3 cups)
- Wax paper
Once you have gathered the ingredients, you can make yourself ginger tea with the help of the following steps:
- Boil the water in a medium flame for about five minutes.
- While you are waiting for the water to boil, peel the ginger and chop it up into small pieces.
- Wrap the small pierces of ginger in wax paper and crush them to make the pieces even smaller.
- Once the water has boiled, plop the ginger pieces in there and let it boil for another minute.
- Pour a tablespoon of honey in a cup and then strain the ginger tea in there. Stir thoroughly to ensure that it has been mixed properly.
- Add a pinch of nutmeg.
Your ginger tea is now ready to use. Do note that the honey is for taste only, and you may choose to skip it if you are so inclined.
Homemade ginger ale can also get rid of nausea really fast. To make it you will need the following ingredients:
- 2 cups of peeled and chopped ginger. The peeling and the chopping method will be exactly the same that was employed in making the ginger tea.
- 2 quarts of chilled club soda or seltzer (sparkling) water.
- 4 strips of lemon or lime peel
- ½ – 1 cup of sugar (use your discretion as per your preference)
- Ice cubes
- Drinking water (4 cups)
Following is how you make the ginger ale:
- Pour the ginger root, lime peel and the water in a saucepan.
- Turn up the heat and let it boil as soon as possible.
- Once the mixture has reached the boiling point, lower the heat and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Make sure that the saucepan is uncovered during the process.
- Add the sugar and gently stir the mixture till the sugar is completely dissolved.
- Keep stirring gently till at least 25% of the water evaporates. It usually takes about 15 minutes to do so.
- Strain the mixture over a large bowl.
- Refrigerate the syrup for about 7 days.
Your ginger ale syrup is now ready. Every time you feel a wave of nausea, simply mix the syrup and soda or sparkling water in a 1:4 ratio and enjoy it in a glass with a few ice-cubes in it! The drink is delicious and you catch yourself enjoying a glass even when you are not nauseated!
- BRAT Diet
This diet has the following components:
- Applesauce (unsweetened)
The combination does not sound too appetizing, but it can be essential (if not the only) source of nutrition if you are suffering from stomach flu and are unable to keep anything down. Stick to eating just this for every meal, until your stomach inflammation goes down.
You can also add some light pasta and mashed potatoes to the aforementioned diet to add a bit of variety.
- Milk Toast
Unless you are suffering from the stomach flu, or if you are lactose intolerant, milk toast can soothe your tummy and help ease the symptoms of nausea. It does so because:
- The milk form a protective layer on the stomach lining, thus easing the inflammation.
- The bread absorbs excess stomach acids.
Following is how you would apply the treatment:
- Heat a cup of milk, till it reaches a temperature just short of the boiling point. Pour it in a large bowl.
- Toast a slice of bread (preferably wheat or multi-grain bread) and put a thin coat of unsalted butter on it. Make sure that the bread is slightly charred, as it is purported to ease nausea.
- Crumble the toast it the milk and soak it in it. Take small bites.
- Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) is highly effective in treating nausea caused by morning sickness or food poisoning. Its effectivity against morning sickness is purely anecdotal, however, its well-documented anti-microbial properties attests its use for treating food poisoning.
Simply add a teaspoon of ACV to a glass of water and add a teaspoon of honey for added taste and drink it daily. For best results, use organic ACV that has the “mother of vinegar” still in it!
- Cranberry Juice
Drinking cranberry juice can ease stomach inflammation as it may soothe the intestinal tract. It is an excellent source of basic nutrients and electrolytes, especially when you are finding it impossible to keep down any solid food.
If you do end up puking, remember that there are few triggers for nausea as potent as the smell of vomit. Use your mouthwash to get rid of the lingering stench from your mouth.
If your mouthwash fails to get the job done, mix ¼ cup of vinegar in a ¼ cup of water and rinse your mouth with this concoction. This is guaranteed to get the smell out of your breath in no time!
Although the UConn study suggested that it was actually deep breaths that cured nausea rather than aromatherapy, a different study published in the September, 2013 issue of the Journal of Anesthesia and Analgesia suggested that aromatherapy can help people recover from PON. In this study, volunteers were divided into three groups as well. The first group was provided ginger essential oil, the second group was provided with a blend of cardamom, ginger, peppermint and spearmint essential oils and the third group was provided with rubbing alcohol, which was the placebo. The first two groups reported a significant decrease in the symptoms of nausea, compared to the third group. This shows aromatherapy to be an effective cure for nausea as well.
There is a lot of anecdotal and empirical evidence that suggests that stimulating the P6 acupressure points (known as Nei Kuan in traditional Chinese medicine) can help relieve nausea caused by chemotherapy, morning sickness, motion sickness and post-operative sickness.
The P6 points are located on both of our arms, roughly 2.5 inches below the wrist on the thumb-side. Simply press on these points and massage them for a minute in between 3 minute intervals. If you do not find any relief from this treatment, it is highly recommended that you consult a qualified acupuncturist and have her identify the pressure points for you.
Besides the P6 pressure points mentioned above, anecdotal evidence suggests that there are several other pressure points dispersed throughout the human body, which can be manipulated to cure nausea. Seek a licensed acupuncturist, if you would like to explore this remedy further.
- Stretching Exercises
It was mentioned earlier in this article that a physical discomfort in the neck or the lower back can trigger a bout of nausea. The following exercises should help you get rid of the discomfort and cure nausea in the process:
- For the neck: Tilt your head forward till it touches your chest and hold it there for about 15 seconds. Bring your head back to its natural position and then tilt it to the left till your left year is gently touching your left shoulder and hold it there for about 15 seconds. Now tilt it towards the right. Repeat these steps about three times to ease the knot or discomfort in your neck.
- For the back: Lie on the floor and assume the position you would take for doing push-ups. Now, instead of doing pushups, simply arch your back (without raising your whole mid-section) as much as you can. Your chin would be facing the ceiling, once you are able to assume the ideal position. Try holding this position for about twenty seconds before you lie on the floor again. Repeat this three times as well!
- Heating Pad
This is effective if your nausea is being caused by a stomach inflammation. Having a heating bad or a hot water bottle against the stomach can reduce cramps, thus preventing the onset of nausea.
- Cold Compress
Placing a cold compress on your head or on the neck can give you some relief from nausea. You can use the traditional ice pack, a bag of frozen vegetables or even wrap a washcloth in ice! Take care so that the ice is never in contact with your skin, as it may damage it!
If you reach the point where you feel that you have to throw up, do not prevent yourself from doing so. The undigested food matter in your esophagus has stomach acids mixed in it, and it may damage your food pipes if it stays there for extended periods of time. After you are done hurling, the feeling of nausea should pass and you will feel a lot better.