Managing Nausea & Vomiting with Ayurveda

Winter in this part of the world seems to be a time for intestinal viruses to assert their presence, and such viruses almost invariably carry in their wake symptoms of nausea and vomiting (the highly contagious and omnipresent Norovirus is one good example).

Dreadfully uncomfortable and unpleasant, there is really only one ‘good’ thing that can be said about them: they leave quickly, most lasting for a mere 24 to 48 hours (although that can seem like an awfully long time when one is ill!).

Nausea is an uncomfortable feeling on the whole, and often ends in what is referred to as “emesis,” vomiting or “throwing up”. Though, unpleasant, vomiting is considered beneficial at times, as during the process of vomiting, it enables the body to rid itself of toxic substances (indeed Vamana – therapeutic emesis – is one of the five principal modalities of Panchakarma therapy). Vomiting is a highly integrated and complex reflex involving both autonomic and somatic neural pathway’s synchronous contraction of the diaphragm, intercostal and abdominal muscles that raises intra-abdominal pressure that, when combined with relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter, results in the forcible ejection of gastric contents. Vomit usually contains food particles, bile, water and sometimes blood, the presence of which indicates bleeding from stomach, small intestine or esophagus. Vomiting is often accompanied by nausea, retching, salivation, anorexia, abdominal pain, fever, headache, vertigo, and weight loss, as well as dehydration.

According to Ayurveda vata is the pradhan or main dosha, responsible for vaman.

Nausea, known to Ayurveda as Chardhi, can be acute and short-lived, or it can be prolonged. When prolonged, it carries with it the danger of dehydration. Vomiting can be a symptom of a more serious underlying condition, and requires professional intervention if:

* It continues for more than 24 hours, with large quantities of vomit.
* It has blood in it.
* It has brown solidified particles in it (coffee ground vomiting).
* It is black in color.
* There appreciable fluid loss (i.e., if accompanied by diarrhea), which may lead to dehydration.

Home Remedies for Nausea

There are many simple, Ayurvedic home remedies for nausea and vomiting.

Ginger is one such effective remedy, which can be taken in the form of tea or capsule.

Ginger has volatile oils that aid digestion, soothes the irritated linings, and tones muscles of digestive tract. Ginger also stimulates liver to produce bile which helps in fat digestion. To overcome motion sickness, the first dose of ginger should be taken about three to four hours before travel. For relief from nausea associated with chemotherapy, consult a physician before taking ginger, as ginger in the presence of an abnormal blood platelet count could hinder blood clotting.

Peppermint tea or oil helps in easing spasms of digestive tract, and could be beneficial for nausea that occurs due to intestinal cramping. However, peppermint tea is a better choice for nausea during pregnancy, rather than peppermint oil, as the latter has a more powerful effect. (Don’t use peppermint if there is iron-deficiency anemia or if the individual is taking anti-seizure medication).

Golden seal is another remedy for nausea, if the nausea is not caused by pregnancy. It can be taken in the form of tea or pill, and the herb soothes liver and stomach, apart from enhancing digestion.

As for nausea in children, Aloe Vera juice helps in combating the stomach ache that often accompanies nausea. One tablespoon of the juice can be diluted in six ounces of water and given up to three times a day.

Chamomile tea also helps and soothes a child suffering from nausea. One dose can be given with or in between the meals twice a day.

Ginger tea is also beneficial for stomachache, nausea and vomiting in kids. For children who dislike the flavor, it can be mixed with apple juice. Also effective is a slice of fresh ginger, dipped in lemon juice and with a sprinkle of black salt, which when chewed should afford nearly immediate relief.

Finally, drink as much water as possible to prevent dehydration, but avoid caffeinated and carbonated beverages.

Other home remedies of proven effectiveness include lemon juice with sugar and honey, slices of lemon licked during nausea and vomiting, sugar cane juice, grape juice, and the juice of mango tree leaves.

Article provided by William Courson, BVSA, D. Ayur., an Ayurvedic Practitioner, faculty member and the College Dean of Institutional Development at Sai Ayurvedic College & Ayurvedic Wellness Center.

Leave a Reply