Throwing up, as everyone knows, is not pleasant. Usually, but not always, it’s preceded by a queasy sensation in the belly, called nausea. The two conditions can be a sign that the stomach is irritated (by a certain food or medicine, too much food or alcohol, or an infection) or a symptom of a disorder (such as motion sickness, appendicitis, migraine, or ulcer).
Acupressure holds that stomach disturbances happen when the body’s energy flow, or qi, is blocked or unstable. The energy channel can be reopened and recovery stimulated by applying firm, deep pressure to certain points on the body with the fingers and hands. Acupressure can be performed during nausea but before vomiting. The following are some of the frequently used pressure points:
- P6 (also known as HP6 or PC6) — on the pericardium meridian, on the inside of the forearm, about two inches above the wrist crease.
- LI4 — on the large intestine meridian, the webbing between the thumb and index finger, on the back of the hand. (Pregnant women should never use this point without professional guidance.)
- ST44 — on the stomach meridian, on top of the foot, the indentation between the tendons of the second and third toes.
Studies have shown that applying pressure to the P6 point can alleviate nausea in cases of motion sickness, morning sickness, surgery recovery, and chemotherapy. In many trials, the researchers used elastic wrist bands that apply pressure with plastic disks.
Here’s a sample treatment using the pressure point P6:
- To find the point on one of the inner forearms, measure two thumb-widths up from the wrist crease between the tendons.
- You or the practitioner can calm this point, massaging with gentle pressure for two minutes.
- Repeat the treatment on the other forearm.
Naturopathic medicine looks for what might be at the root of the nausea and vomiting. For example, why does the motion of a plane bring on an uneasy stomach, and what can be done to eliminate this susceptibility?
A naturopathic physician performs a detailed examination of the patient, looking over diet, lifestyle, emotional state, and when and how the nausea or vomiting happens. Herbal medicine, a change in diet, supplements, homeopathy, acupuncture, or other treatments may be prescribed.
Dried gingerroot, for example, can reduce or prevent nausea and vomiting, especially when the symptoms are related to motion sickness, morning sickness, or sickness related to surgery recovery. Teas made from ginger or peppermint, when sipped very slowly, can usually ease the upset stomach of nausea. This is particularly helpful for motion sickness when taken half an hour before boarding a boat or plane.
Aromatherapy works to calm a fragile, irritated, or nervous stomach with essential oils from plants and herbs. The oils can be given on the tongue, massaged into the skin, or applied with a compress. Peppermint, a digestive aid, is considered one of the most effective essential oils for curbing nausea. Other oils used for their action on the digestive tract are chamomile, damask rose, fennel, and lavender.
- Bodywork for Nausea and Vomiting — Several therapies may offer relief, including reflexology and Therapeutic Touch.
- Detoxification, Fasting, and Colon Therapy for Nausea and Vomiting — A short fast or juice diet or a colonic irrigation can be used to address the possible causes of nausea and vomiting.
- Homeopathy for Nausea and Vomiting — Common remedies include arsenicum album, ipecacuanha, and nux vomica.
- Hydrotherapy for Nausea and Vomiting — Alternating hot and cold compresses to the trunk can be effective.
- Meditation for Nausea and Vomiting — Regular meditation can reduce stress and clear the mind, which is helpful for nausea and vomiting brought on by tension and anxiety.
- Traditional Chinese Medicine for Nausea and Vomiting — Several Chinese herbal combinations are very effective for nausea and vomiting, especially in pregnancy.