Nausea is the stomach-turning sensation that usually precedes retching or vomiting. Vomiting is one of the body's more ostentatious methods of elimination.
Nausea and vomiting may be due to a variety of causes:
- Anxiety. Stress affects everyone differently. However the stomach is where many people feel it physically. For some, stress manifests with an attack of the runs, others bloat and burp, others feel sick in the stomach. (See Anxiety.)
- Chemotherapy and radiotherapy. These common treatments for cancer often cause nausea. (See Cancer Treatments.)
- Food poisoning. Vomiting is the best way to rid the body promptly of toxic pathogens before they are absorbed.
- Gallbladder and liver problems. If you feel queasy after fatty foods, it could be due to your gallbladder or liver, as these organs deal with the digestion of fats. The other word for 'nauseous' is 'bilious', which comes from the word 'bile', the liver secretion. (See Liver Problems.)
- Hypoglycaemia. If you feel nauseous, ask yourself when last you ate. If it was more than four hours ago, your blood sugar levels may be low. Make sure you eat a small meal of carbohydrate and protein every two to three hours. (See Hypoglycaemia.)
- Mucus swallowing. Not a pretty thought, but a reliable cause of nausea. If you have catarrh draining down the back of your throat from congested sinuses or nose, you may not realise how much you swallow. (See Sinusitis.)
- Morning sickness. 'Morning' sickness may occur at any time of the day, but generally only when you're pregnant. It is thought to be caused by more oestrogen being produced by the placenta, or by the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin. Try these remedies:
- Leave a plain arrowroot biscuit or slice of dry toast on your bedside table to nibble before you get up in the morning.
- Try ginger or spearmint tea. Take 3-4 cups daily as needed.
- Take raspberry leaf tea for morning sickness, and as a tonic during pregnancy. 2-3 cups daily as needed.
- Vitamin B6, 250 mg three times daily, in combination with a daily B complex.
- Motion sickness. You have the choice of being car-sick, air-sick, sea-sick, train-sick... even swing- and space-sick. Motion sickness is caused by nerve messages sent from the inner ear to part of the medulla in the brain called, believe it or not, the vomit centre. Take a ginger tablet before your journey.
- Overeating. Simply overfilling the confines of the stomach may make you vomit. The Romans, 2000 years ago, had specially built vomitariums so that they could more conveniently empty their stomachs to keep on eating. Vomiting after overeating is a defensive mechanism, not something to be encouraged.
What To Do
If your nausea is a passing phase, then it is best to eat nothing for a day or so, until you feel hungry. However, if the nausea is more than that, seek diagnosis and meanwhile the following suggestions may help.
- Avoid fatty foods... these will only make matters worse.
- Keep to bland, non-smelly foods, such as rice, chicken breast and apple.
- Get someone else to cook.
- Replace fluids if vomiting continues. Vomit is mainly water, and you can become dehydrated very quickly without realising. Some rehydrating fluids to sip slowly include plain water, not too hot, not too cold; the old faithful flat lemonade, ginger ale or cola will often help you through a queasy time; Chinese green tea; ginger or spearmint tea; soda water with a squeeze of lemon.
Herbs and Supplements
- (See Settle Petal), See also Preggers)
- Herbal tisanes containing peppermint, ginger and raspberry leaf can help with nausea from whatever cause.
- In Europe it is traditional after a heavy meal to sip a digestive made from bitter herbs. The bitter taste stimulates digestion, and prevents indigestion and nausea.
- Studies have shown that vitamin B6 is as effective as anti-nausea drugs. Take 250 mg three times daily until nausea passes.
- Ginger is one of the very best remedies for nausea. A cup of ginger tea (simply pour a cup of boiling water over a few slices of fresh root ginger) after a heavy meal improves digestion. Ginger tablets are also available; a tablet before your journey and every two hours of the trip should prevent travel sickness. Nibbling a piece or two of stem ginger in syrup, although full of sugar, may help get rid of nausea.
- Other herbs and spices which help relieve nausea include nutmeg, chamomile, fennel, basil and cinnamon.
- Put a few drops of basil or spearmint oil in an oil diffuser.
- Soak a handtowel in cold water with about five drops of spearmint oil or a cup of cold spearmint tea. Wring out the cloth and place it on your upper abdomen. If you don't have spearmint, use peppermint instead.
- Homoeopathic remedies can work very quickly for nausea. There are several available in spray, drop or pilule form from health food stores. Many contain Ipecac... but in diluted tasteless amounts.
- Place an ice pack (or unopened pack of frozen peas) on the back of your neck.
- Press the acupuncture point He-Gu or 'Joining of the Valleys' which is situated at the vortex between thumb and first finger. Dig deep into this spot with the opposite thumb, and massage in a tight circle for about one minute. Then for another minute, massage the scalp deeply as a good hairdresser does it when shampooing you.
- Feeling sick and the process of vomiting are intrinsically frightening. Vomiting can make even the strongest feel vulnerable. A few drops of Rescue Remedy will take the edge off fearfulness. You can also tell yourself something calming, as to a small child; 'All will be well, my stomach is calming' or 'I will feel fine in a little while'.
At a glance
- Good food
- Fast, drink ginger or spearmint tea, flat ginger ale.
- Food to avoid
- Fatty foods, alcohol.
- Remedies to begin
- Ginger, vitamin B6, spearmint tea, homoeopathics.
- Is something in your life so distasteful it makes you sick? Is there something that you want to 'chuck' out of your life?