Nausea refers to feelings of queasiness — often with the urge to vomit. Symptoms of nausea include sweating, a rush of saliva in the mouth, fatigue, and loss of appetite.
While it’s often associated with acid reflux and over-eating, nausea can also occur during pregnancy, with motion sickness, or as a side effect of other medical disorders or common illnesses.
There are many anti-nausea medications that can help with severe or persistent nausea. But if your nausea is mild or occasional, there are also a number of effective home remedies that can help relieve your symptoms naturally.
1. Use ginger
Ginger is an effective remedy for nausea, says Daniel Devine, MD, internal medicine doctor and geriatrician at Devine Concierge Medicine, a primary care practice in Philadelphia.
That’s because ginger has anti-inflammatory properties, which can support digestion, and its compounds are also thought to speed up the process of stomach contents moving into the small intestine, which can reduce symptoms of nausea.
A 2014 analysis of six different studies published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine examining the use of ginger in pregnancy found that taking about one gram of ginger once a day for at least five days decreased symptoms of nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy. Studies have also found that ginger can be effective in managing nausea and vomiting symptoms for chemotherapy patients.
Ginger can be taken as a supplement, sold as capsules. You can also add pieces of whole, fresh ginger to your tea, or include it as a spice or seasoning in your food.
2. Try peppermint
Peppermint has long been regarded as a traditional remedy for nausea, though the scientific evidence on its efficacy is not as robust as it is for ginger, Devine says. Still, many people swear by its calming properties.
The main ingredient in peppermint, menthol, is thought to relax the stomach, which can alleviate cramping and nausea.
One small study from 2014 published in the Journal of Perianesthesia Nursing suggested that even the scent of peppermint oil can alleviate nausea, but more research is needed to determine whether it is an effective remedy.
However, if you experience both nausea and vomiting, peppermint may not be very effective, since it is primarily used to treat nausea — and not episodes of vomiting.
If you want to give peppermint a try, you can buy it as a tea or diffuse peppermint essential oil for aromatherapy by adding two to three drops of peppermint oil to a diffuser filled with water.
3. Eat smaller, bland meals
Eating too much can cause nausea, Devine says. That’s because when you eat too much, it stretches the stomach, resulting in bloating, heartburn, and excessive digestive movement — all of which can lead to nausea.
Eating small, frequent meals and consuming a bland diet without strong flavors can be helpful in reducing episodes of nausea, Devine says. Bland foods are easy to digest and can help settle your stomach.
Bland foods that can help with nausea include:
- White bread or toast
- Plain chicken
- Saltine crackers
If you’re feeling queasy, you should avoid spicy food and acidic beverages like soda, juice, or alcohol — all of which can exacerbate nausea symptoms. You may even want to consider trying the BRAT diet when you feel nauseous.
4. Stay hydrated
It may be hard to eat or drink anything when you have nausea — including water. But according to Devine, dehydration will only make your nausea worse.
This can be especially important if you’re experiencing nausea as a result of extreme heat or humidity. In fact, nausea and vomiting are some of the main symptoms of heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
Overheating causes your blood vessels to dilate as your body tries to cool itself down — and this change in blood pressure can manifest as nausea or dizziness. But if you drink lots of water and stay hydrated, it will help you cool down and return to a normal body temperature.
If drinking water is a challenge for you with nausea, you should take small sips throughout the day or try a soothing beverage like warm peppermint tea.
For more information, read about how much water you should be drinking each day to stay hydrated.
5. Sit upright or lie down with your head propped
When you feel queasy, you might be tempted to lay down, but this actually isn’t the best idea. Lying flat while nauseous could lead to vomiting, Devine says.
“It is important to use gravity to your advantage and keep your head inclined above your stomach,” Devine says.
By staying upright, gravity helps keep your stomach contents down. Sitting down in an upright position — or lying down with your head propped up on a couple pillows — is the best choice if you’re hoping to relieve nausea.
6. Practice acupressure
Acupressure is an alternative medicine practice of applying pressure to certain points on the body, known as meridians. The idea is that by putting pressure on these places, you send a message to the body to turn on its self-healing mechanisms, which may alleviate pain or nausea.
A 2006 review of more than 40 trials published in the journal Autonomic Neuroscience found that acupressure can reduce some symptoms of nausea.
One of the main pressure points for nausea is called the Pericardium 6, or Neiguan, located near your wrist. This pressure point is thought to alleviate nausea because the meridian pathway of this point travels up the arm, into the chest and upper abdomen, near the stomach.
Here’s how to locate P6 and use this pressure point:
- To access the P6 point, extend your arm out with your palm facing you. Place three fingers (pointer, middle and ring) from your opposite hand right under your wrist.
- Put your thumb in the spot just below your index finger. If you feel two large tendons, or bumps on your skin, then you have identified the P6 spot.
- Once you locate P6, slowly apply pressure to this point with your opposite thumb.
- Press firmly on the point for two to three minutes, while moving your thumb in a small circle. Don’t press so hard that you feel severe pain, but you should feel a dull ache.
- Repeat this on the other wrist.
When to see a doctor
If nausea is associated with frequent episodes of vomiting, chest pain, or comes with dark stools or dark vomit, you should reach out to your doctor, Devine says. And if nausea persists for more than a couple days, or if the symptoms are quickly worsening, that could also be a sign that something more serious is going on.
For example, conditions like pancreatitis, bowel obstructions, or even a heart attack can cause nausea and will require medical attention.
Some people are also more prone to nausea due to certain conditions. These include:
The bottom line
Nausea can feel uncomfortable, but it is generally very manageable with the right approach. If you can’t get rid of nausea with these natural home remedies, check in with your doctor, who can work with you to develop a treatment plan.
Gallery: 15 Ways to Tell If You’re Dehydrated (ETNT Health)