Regularly experiencing nausea or stomach discomfort is often a sign of sluggish digestion. However, there are many reasons you might feel queasy. Several common culprits include motion sickness, food poisoning, migraines, pregnancy, illness, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and inner ear disorders, says Elizabeth Milbank, M.D., M.P.H. , a board-certified preventive medicine and lifestyle medicine physician at Parsley Health New York .
But no matter the reason, chances are you’re looking for ways to relieve your nausea—now. If you experience nausea for more than two weeks, and you don’t know why you have it, see your doctor for an evaluation, Dr. Milbank says. Otherwise, find relief with one (or more) of these natural remedies.
Ginger, also known asZingiber officinale , does more than add a spicy kick to your favorite stir fry dish:“This spice has been used medicinally for thousands of years to prevent nausea,” Dr. Milbank says. Ginger is also commonly used to tame nausea during pregnancy, and in people undergoing chemotherapy, according to research published in the 2016 issue of Integrative Medicine Insights . Ginger works to stimulate digestion, helping move food out of the stomach and into the lower gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
Ginger chews, capsules, tea, and even ginger ale made with real ginger can all be very effective remedies for relieving nausea, Dr. Milbank says. Though ginger is generally safe and effective for preventing nausea during pregnancy (one review found 1500 milligrams of ginger per day to be a healthy dose for pregnant women), the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health recommends pregnant women check with their doctor before using ginger, just to be safe.
Acupuncture and acupressure are two forms of traditional Chinese bodywork that are commonly used to treat nausea. In acupuncture, thin needles are inserted into specific points (also known as acupoints or pressure points) in the body, whereas acupressure uses manual pressure to provide stimulation. Both techniques work by stimulating nerves, thereby sending signals to the brain and spinal cord that can help ease nausea, according to a review in Anesthesiology . “An acupuncturist can focus on pressure points located on your inner arm near your wrist that help relieve nausea,” Dr. Milbank says.
To find a qualified practitioner, search the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine .
However, be aware that stimulating certain pressure points may be dangerous if you’re pregnant. Stimulating the large intestine 4 pressure point, for example, may induce labor, according to the UCLA Center for East-West Medicine .
Aromatherapy, or the use of scents (in the form of essential oils) for therapeutic purposes, can offer fast-acting nausea relief. Inhaling peppermint oil in particular is a great option, as peppermint oil relaxes the stomach muscles, keeping nausea-related cramping at bay, according to a 2012 review in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine . In one study , post-operative cardiac patients who inhaled peppermint oil experienced nausea relief after just two minutes.
Some other ways you can use aromatherapy to get rid of nausea include diffusing peppermint oil in your home or car, or carrying small scented sprays in your bag to spritzon a cotton ball or tissue when you’re on the go, Dr. Milbank says.
Exercise already offers plenty of health benefits, but it can also be helpful in preventing or treating nausea. One study found cycling three times per week led to significant improvements in nausea in women undergoing chemotherapy, while another study reveals that 60 minutes of yoga per day helped ease nausea in chemotherapy patients.
Exercise is effective against nausea for a few different reasons. First, exercise can be a great distraction; it diverts your attention from your discomfort and gives you something else to focus on. What’s more, exercise gets the blood flowing away from the stomach and signals the release of endorphins that can counteract fatigue and nausea, according to Dr. Milbank.
If you can, get out for a walk, swim or quick jog during the day to help relieve and prevent nausea.
We don’t exactly know why, but vitamin B6 supplements may be helpful in preventing pregnancy-related nausea, especially for women who are afraid of adverse effects from conventional anti-nausea medications.
If you’re experiencing pregnancy-related nausea, Dr. Milbank recommends taking a 25-mg B6 capsule two to three times per day. “Be sure not to exceed 100 mg a day,” she says.
Learning how to systematically tense and relax your muscles—a technique known as progressive muscle relaxation (PMR)—can help you relax physically and mentally, which has been shown to help in getting rid of nausea, according to a review . In fact, research shows PMR considerably reduced nausea and vomiting in chemotherapy patients, compared to patients who didn’t receive PMR. If other natural remedies to get rid of nausea aren’t working for you, ask your doctor if this method could be right for you and how to perform it.
Lauren Bedosky is a freelance health and fitness writer who specializes in running, strength training, and nutrition. She writes for a variety of national publications and businesses, including Men’s Health, MyFitnessPal, Livestrong, and Women’s Running. Lauren lives in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, with her husband and their three dogs.