Nausea is something most people are familiar with. It is never pleasant and can arise in a variety of situations, including pregnancy and travel.
Anti-nausea medications are commonly used to help relieve it. Unfortunately, such medications can have negative side effects of their own, including drowsiness.
Here are 17 home remedies that help you get rid of nausea without using medications.
Ginger is a popular natural remedy commonly used to treat nausea.
The way it works is not yet fully understood. However, experts believe that compounds in ginger may work in a similar way to anti-nausea medications (, ). In fact, several studies agree that ginger is effective at reducing nausea in various situations.
For instance, consuming ginger may be an effective way to reduce nausea during pregnancy (, , , ).
Ginger may also be effective at reducing the nausea people commonly experience after chemotherapy treatment or an operation (, , , ).
Some studies even report ginger to be as effective as some prescription medications, with fewer negative side effects (, ).
There is no consensus regarding the most effective dosage, but most of the studies above provided participants with 0.5 to 1.5 grams of dried ginger root per day.
Ginger use is safe for most people. However, you may need to limit your ginger intake if you're prone to low blood pressure or low blood sugar, or if you're taking blood thinners ().
Some experts also question the safety of eating dried ginger during pregnancy ().
While there are only a small number of studies on ginger, the ones performed on healthy pregnant women report a low risk of side effects. Thus, most experts consider ginger to be a safe, effective remedy during pregnancy (, , , ).
Summary: A daily dose of ginger may be an effective alternative to anti-nausea medications in a variety of situations, including during pregnancy and after chemotherapy or an operation.
Peppermint aromatherapy is another alternative likely to help reduce nausea.
One study assessed its effects in women who had just given birth by C-section.
Those exposed to a peppermint smell rated their level of nausea significantly lower than those given anti-nausea medications or a placebo ().
In another study, peppermint aromatherapy was effective at reducing nausea in 57% of cases ().
In a third study, using an inhaler containing peppermint oil at the onset of nausea reduced symptoms — within two minutes of treatment — in 44% of cases ().
Some propose that sipping on a cup of peppermint tea may have similar anti-nausea effects. Yet while you have little to lose by giving peppermint tea a try, there are currently no studies that confirm its effectiveness.
Peppermint oil taken in pill form has shown mixed results. Some studies show benefits, while others find no effects (18, ).
What's more, little information exists on the safety of ingesting peppermint oil.
For this reason, more studies on peppermint pills are needed before strong conclusions can be made. However, smelling peppermint oil should be perfectly safe and seems to work in about half of people.
Summary: Smelling peppermint oil at the onset of nausea may help reduce your symptoms.
Acupuncture and acupressure are two techniques commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat nausea and vomiting.
During acupuncture, thin needles are inserted into specific points on the body. Acupressure aims to stimulate the same points of the body, but uses pressure instead of needles to do so.
Both techniques stimulate nerve fibers, which transmit signals to the brain and spinal cord. These signals are thought to have the ability to decrease nausea (, ).
For instance, two recent reviews report that acupuncture and acupressure reduce the risk of developing nausea after an operation by 28–75% (, ).
What's more, studies show that both forms are as effective as anti-nausea medications at reducing symptoms, with virtually no negative side effects ().
Similarly, two other reviews report that acupressure lowers the severity of nausea and the risk of developing it after chemotherapy (, 25).
There is also some evidence that acupuncture may reduce nausea during pregnancy, but more research is needed on this (26).
Most studies that report a benefit stimulated the Neiguan acupuncture point, also known as the P6 or inner frontier gate point ().
You can stimulate this nerve on your own simply by placing your thumb 2–3 finger widths down from your inner wrist, between the two prominent tendons.
Here is an illustration showing how you can find this point yourself.Illustration by Diego Sabogal
Once you've located it, press down with your thumb for about one minute before repeating the same procedure on your other arm. Repeat if needed.
Summary: Acupuncture and acupressure are two scientifically proven techniques to reduce nausea.
Citrusy smells, such as those from a freshly sliced lemon, may help reduce nausea in pregnant women.
In one study, a group of 100 pregnant women were instructed to inhale either lemon or almond essential oils as soon as they felt nausea.
At the end of the 4-day study, those in the lemon group rated their nausea up to 9% lower than those given the almond oil placebo ().
Slicing a lemon or simply scratching its peel may work in a similar way because it helps release its essential oils into the air. A vial of lemon essential oil may be a practical alternative to use when you're away from home.
Summary: Citrusy smells, whether from a freshly cut lemon or from store-bought essential oils, may help reduce pregnancy-related nausea.
Taking slow, deep breaths can also help reduce nausea.
In one study, researchers attempted to determine which aromatherapy scent was most effective at reducing nausea following surgery.
They instructed participants to breathe in slowly through the nose and exhale through the mouth three times, while exposed to various scents ().
All participants, including those in the placebo group, reported a decrease in nausea. This made the researchers suspect that the controlled breathing may have provided the relief ().
In a second study, researchers confirmed that aromatherapy and controlled breathing both independently relieve nausea. In this study, the controlled breathing reduced it in 62% of cases ().
The breathing pattern used in this last study required participants to inhale through their nose to a count of three, hold their breath to a count of three, then exhale to a count of three ().
Summary: Specific controlled breathing techniques are a free and effective home remedy for nausea.
Several spices are popular home remedies often recommended to combat nausea.
Most of these spices are supported solely by anecdotal evidence. However, the nausea-fighting power of these three spices is backed by some scientific evidence:
- Fennel powder: May reduce menstrual symptoms, including nausea, and help women experience shorter periods ().
- Cinnamon: May reduce the severity of nausea that women experience during menstruation ().
- Cumin extract: May help improve symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea, constipation and diarrhea in individuals suffering from IBS ().
Although these three spices may help relieve nausea in certain individuals, very few studies exist and more are needed before strong conclusions can be drawn.
It's also worth noting that the studies above used doses ranging from 180–420 mg per day. These mega-doses are difficult to achieve through normal, everyday use of these spices.
Summary: Certain spices may successfully reduce the frequency or severity of nausea. However, large doses may be required and more studies are needed to confirm these effects.
Relaxing your muscles may help relieve nausea.
One technique people have used to achieve this effect is known as progressive muscle relaxation (PMR). It requires individuals to tense and relax their muscles in a continuous sequence as a way to achieve physical and mental relaxation ().
One recent review found that PMR is an effective way to reduce the severity of nausea resulting from chemotherapy ().
Another way to relieve muscle tension is through massage.
In one study, a group of chemotherapy patients were given a 20-minute lower arm or lower leg massage during their treatment.
Compared to those given no massage, the massaged participants were about 24% less likely to get nauseous afterward ().
Summary: Relaxing your muscles, whether through massage or PMR techniques, may help relieve nausea.
Vitamin B6 is increasingly recommended as an alternative treatment for pregnant women preferring to avoid anti-nausea medications.
Several studies report that supplements of vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, successfully reduce nausea during pregnancy (, , , ).
For this reason, several experts suggest taking vitamin B6 supplements during pregnancy as a first-line treatment against mild nausea (, 41).
Vitamin B6 doses up to 200 mg per day are generally considered safe during pregnancy and produce virtually no side effects. Therefore, this alternative therapy may be worth a try (41, ).
Nevertheless, there haven't been very many studies on this topic, and some report no effects (, ).
Summary: For pregnant women who are experiencing nausea, vitamin B6 is a safe and potentially effective alternative to anti-nausea medications.
- Avoid spicy or fatty foods: A blander diet made up of foods such as bananas, rice, applesauce, crackers or baked potatoes may relieve nausea and decrease the likelihood of an upset stomach.
- Add protein to your meals: Protein-rich meals may fight off nausea better than meals high in fat or carbs ().
- Avoid large meals: Opting for smaller, more frequent meals when you're feeling nauseated may help reduce your symptoms.
- Stay upright after you eat: Some people are more likely to experience reflux or become nauseous if they lie down within 30 to 60 minutes following a meal.
- Avoid drinking with meals: Drinking any liquids with meals may increase feelings of fullness, which may worsen nausea in some individuals.
- Stay hydrated: Dehydration can worsen nausea. If your nausea is accompanied by vomiting, replace your lost fluids with electrolyte-rich fluids such as flat mineral water, vegetable broth or a sports drink.
- Avoid strong smells: These may worsen nausea, especially during pregnancy.
- Avoid iron supplements: Pregnant women with normal iron levels should avoid taking iron supplements during the first trimester because they may worsen feelings of nausea ().
- Exercise: Aerobic exercise and yoga may be particularly helpful ways to reduce nausea in some individuals (, ).
It's worth noting that most of these last tips are only supported by anecdotal evidence. That said, they pose little risk and may be worthy trying.
Summary: The tips above may prevent or relieve nausea, according to anecdotal evidence. Most of these treatments haven't been studied.
Nausea can happen in many situations and often makes you feel terrible.
The natural tips above can help reduce nausea without using medications.
That said, if your nausea persists, you should definitely seek additional advice from your healthcare practitioner.