Everyone experiences nausea at one point or another. Whether yours is related to pregnancy, acid reflux, or cancer treatment, the natural route may provide some relief. Keeping these things on hand is always a good thing for whatever the circumstance is. Below are some natures remedies and things I used during my pregnancy.
Nausea arises in a variety of situations, and understanding the cause is important for deciding the most appropriate treatment.
Pregnancy is a most crucial time for natural treatments. Especially in early pregnancy, when you want to avoid taking medications as much as possible, nausea can be draining. Natural remedies to the rescue! Most home remedies will work during this stage. Every woman’s response is different, so it may take some experimenting to find out which natural treatment provides the greatest nausea relief. Make sure to talk with your doctor before taking any natural products when pregnant.
While research goes back and forth on the extent of its effectiveness as a natural remedy, ginger has a long history of being used to treat nausea, stomachaches, and diarrhea. The Chinese have used ginger to treat a variety of digestive and pain issues for more than 2,000 years, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. It’s unclear exactly how ginger worksto ease nausea, but it’s thought that active components, such as gingerol, directly affect the digestive and central nervous systems.
“[It’s] an excellent treatment for nausea, especially in pregnancy,” says Lauren Richter, DO, assistant professor of family and community medicine at the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. Research indicates that short-term use of ginger is safe and relieves nausea symptoms during pregnancy, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH).
More research is needed to gain a clear understanding of what ginger can and cannot do, but studies suggest it is an effective treatment for post-operative and chemotherapy-related nausea, as well. A 2012 study published in Integrative Cancer Therapies found that, out of a group of 100 women with advanced breast cancer, those who took ginger following chemotherapy experienced significantly less nausea in the first six to 24 hours post-treatment than those in the control group.
There are many ways to get your ginger: Dr. Richter recommends using raw ginger in cooking, drinking it in tea, or eating candied ginger. “Dissolve it in the mouth like a mint,” she says.
Speaking of mint, peppermint is another traditional remedy that’s been around for a long time. Both peppermint leaves and peppermint oil are helpful in dealing with indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome, according to the NCCIH.
“Peppermint is also wonderful for nausea,” says Richter. Thanks to its calming and numbing effect, peppermint relaxes your stomach muscles so that bile can break down fats and food can move through the stomach quickly, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. That said, if you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), you should not use peppermint. Peppermint comes in many forms and treatments, including ointments for skin irritation. Some studies even suggest that the scent of peppermint oil could ease nausea.
Peppermint tea is probably the most common way to take this remedy, but it is also available in capsule form or as an essential oil. “This is also very safe in pregnancy,” adds Richter.
3. Acupuncture and Acupressure
Eastern practitioners have been manipulating pressure points throughout the body to address physical symptoms, including nausea, for thousands of years, according to the NCCIH. One version of this approach, acupuncture, involves inserting long, thin needles into the skin. Although there are many hypotheses for exactly how acupuncture works, many scientists believe the needles stimulate certain nerves in the body, which then send signals to the brain to release hormones that reduce feelings of pain and nausea.
When researchers compared acupuncture with medications to control nausea in cancer patients, they found that acupuncture was at least as effective. Acupuncture also reduced the need for anti-vomiting medications after chemotherapy in a 2015 study published in Gynecologic Oncology.
Acupressure is similar approach — instead of needles, physical pressure is applied to certain points of the body — that can be performed at home or by a massage therapist. A small 2015 study published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine found that acupressure to the wrist significantly reduced nausea and vomiting in cardiac surgery patients.
Both acupuncture and acupressure can help ease nausea caused by pregnancy, cancer, acid reflux, and other situations. “Again, these therapies are particularly useful in pregnancy, where drug interactions are critical and most drugs are to be avoided,” Richter notes. “There are good reference books out on the market to instruct people on how to do acupressure at home on their own.” But if you do decide to pursue acupuncture, make sure your acupuncturist is a licensed professional, she advises.
Controlling the scents in your environment is another way to ease nausea. Aromatherapy involves removing scents that may be contributing to your nausea and adding scents that can provide relief, such as peppermint oil or lemon. In a 2013 study published in Anesthesia & Analgesia, surgical patients were asked to smell one of three aromatherapy treatments: essential oil of ginger, a blend of ginger, spearmint, peppermint, and cardamom essential oils, or isopropyl alcohol. The researchers found that patients who smelled either the ginger oil or the blend of oils had significantly reduced nausea compared with the patients who smelled isopropyl alcohol.
“You can place a drop or two on a tissue and inhale the scent when you feel nauseated or put it in an essential oil diffuser,” Richter says. These essential oils can also be used in massage therapy; however, some people can have a slight allergic reaction to essential oils placed directly on their skin, according to the NCCIH. You should always use a neutral oil, such as mineral oil, to dilute essential oils before putting them on your skin.