How to Overcome Nausea with Chronic Illness: Travel with Confidence
Nausea, queasiness, revisiting lunch, praying to the porcelain god, a technicolor yawn… whatever you call it, feeling sick sucks.
Aside from riding it out, or eating something bland and starchy like crackers (to absorb excess stomach acid), we often turn to ginger ale or nausea medication. It can feel like the choices are even more limited if you have a chronic illness. Ginger ale contains upwards of 30 grams of processed sugar (or it’s sweetened with not-so-great artificial sweeteners), and anti-nausea drugs can often do more harm than good (such as Dramamine). That being said, make sure to talk to your doctor before reducing any medication that you are currently taking.
Ginger is an ancient herb used widely in history for its many natural medicinal properties and particularly as an antiemetic. The best available evidence demonstrates that ginger is an effective and inexpensive treatment for nausea and vomiting and is safe.
Ginger is a safe, inexpensive, and natural remedy for nausea. Hospitals have used ginger aroma to help soothe cancer patients due to chemotherapy-induced nausea, pregnant women use ginger in many forms to soothe morning sickness, and ginger is also often used to help with motion sickness.
Try ginger tea to soothe your stomach, eat fresh ginger in a smoothie or ginger shot, or find something small and portable like Trader Joes ginger "mints" ($1.99). As a general guide (especially when you're buying something quick and on-the-go), always look out for excess sugar. Ginger chews or candies are delicious, but popping too many of them could counteract the sick feeling you’re trying to quell. That being said, DIY honey-candied ginger or ginger popsicles are great whole-food options that you can adjust in sweetness to your preference. If you're away from home or traveling, having a ginger chew in your bag or packing a few tea bags is always a good idea.
Ginger essential oil is also an easy and versatile option. You can inhale the aroma of ginger to calm your stomach, or put a drop of the oil in your water bottle (avoid plastic). Even better, add a drop of ginger oil to green tea with raw honey or simply hot water.
Just note that we only promote internal use when using high-quality 3rd party tested oils with rigorous standards. Make sure to do some research before buying just any oil (even from a health food store). Read more about oil quality here–it's really important!
This company produces a great ginger oil as well as a blend called DigestZen® including ginger, peppermint, and fennel oils. DigestZen® works really well, but I don't love the taste of it (think sambuca), so try one drop in a veggie cap ($4.00/160 capsules).
Peppermint (Mentha piperita), a popular flavoring for gum, toothpaste, and tea, is also used to soothe an upset stomach or to aid digestion. It has a calming and numbing effect, and is often used to treat headaches, skin irritation, nausea, diarrhea, menstrual cramps, flatulence, and anxiety associated with depression. It is also an ingredient in chest rubs used to treat symptoms of the common cold.
Often recommended as a digestive aid and tummy soother, peppermint is another studied, inexpensive, and well known natural treatment for upset stomachs. So if you enjoy mint tea, that's an excellent way to reap the benefits.
Keep some tea bags or mints in your bag as a convenient way to tackle that sick feeling when out and about or traveling (hello motion sickness!). You can find prepared peppermint tea in stores as well, but look out for added sugar or any artificial sweeteners. If you're feeling fancy (but honestly it's so dang easy), make some virgin mojito popsicles this to keep in your freezer. If you're prone to nausea because of your chronic illness, why not be prepared with something tasty and helpful?
Peppermint is very versatile and powerful when distilled into an essential oil–one drop of dōTERRA's peppermint is equivalent to 28 cups of peppermint tea!
Like ginger oil, you can add a drop of peppermint to hot water for relief. If your muscles and joints start to feel hot and inflamed, peppermint is also cooling and relieves tension when applied topically. Take care near eyes if applying to your temples, and use sparingly!
Again, we only promote internal use when using high-quality 3rd party tested oils with rigorous standards. Make sure to do some research before buying just any oil (even from a health food store). Read more about oil quality here–it's really important!
The price per drop comes to mere cents, and you only need a drop or two at one time
As with everything we talk about here on Chronically Healthy, our advice should not be substituted for medical advice or treatment. Be sure to talk to your doctor about any possible drug interactions with herbal supplements, especially if on anticoagulant blood pressure medication or cholesterol-lowering drugs. Peppermint is also not recommended for those with GERD. Read more about peppermint here, and contact us if you'd like guidance with your particular needs!