10 ways to combat nausea during chemotherapy
Hey Hey Diva friends!!
Between chemo, antibiotics, and changes in my diet this process has been a nightmare for someone always focused on gut health and supporting my microbiome!!!
BUT I chose this path and know that it’s only temporary. I also know that I have all the tools to build my gut back up once I get through this….so meanwhile, I’m left with managing symptoms and by far, the biggest struggle for me has been nausea. Between myself, my doctor and my naturopath, I’ve discovered some tips that may help YOU or someone you love when experiencing this. Feel free to share it with a friend!
Something to understand about nausea is that everyone’s body, treatment and personal experience is different and some nausea is stronger than others. You may or may not actually feel like throwing up, you might just feel “off”. So this list ranges from homeopathic to prescription remedies, and from things to smell to things to ingest. Where I would normally advocate getting to the root cause of nausea so you don’t have to live on a prescription, when undergoing chemotherapy the treatment itself may BE the cause, and it’s certainly not something to mess around with.
In Chinese medicine they talk about yin and yang, hot and cold and that’s another great way of thinking about this as well. Some days you may have excess heat and so a “cold” remedy like peppermint may help but other days you may have excess cold and a “hot” remedy like ginger may sound better to you.
Listen to your body and when reading this list, some things may sound more appealing than others. Go with your gut!
Ginger Zevia. This is basically chemical and sugar free ginger ale! When you’re drinking something to combat nausea you want to make sure you’re not also drinking a bajillion calories, or other harmful chemicals that stress your body. This is a great option for mild to medium level nausea, but I would be careful if you have a lot of digestive complaints, acid reflux, or stomach pains as well because carbonation can be irritating in those cases. You can usually find this at your local grocery store and if they don’t carry it your local heath foods store.
Ginger Tea. This would be a warm, non-carbonated way to get some tummy settling ginger and an easy way to get some beneficial honey in as well! To me, warm drinks did NOT sound appealing, but if it sounds good to you this is a great option.
Peppermint Tea. Peppermint, along with ginger, has been used for centuries to combat nausea! Lesser known than ginger it can be just as effective.
Peppermint essential oil. I personally really liked this option. You can take a whiff of the bottle and keep it with you, use a diffuser in your room, or carry a hand diffuser with you like this one.
Peppermint gum or hard candies.
Preggie Pops. I haven’t personally tried these, but I heard that they are really helpful. My naturopath explained that nausea induced by chemotherapy hits the same parts of our brain as pregnancy nausea. These pops include helpful essential oils and if you are also experiencing funny tastes in your mouth from the treatment this may be a helpful option to distract your brain.
Gluten Free toast. I can never recommend regular bread ( do you even know me?!) but sometimes toast really does seem to help. I personally like the brand Eban’s Bakehouse and would add some grass-fed butter and honey on top! I liked using this honey for the added benefits of the bee pollen, propolis, and royal jelly!
Prescription nausea meds. To me, these are something to use as needed. By that I mean, I am more likely to use these the first 48 hours after chemo and when nausea is persistent or stronger. These come with their own side effects like constipation, headaches or fatigue, so I like to minimize my usage and incorporate as many other options as I can when they work.
Medical cannabis. No, I am not advocating that you go buy a joint off the street. It's critical to do this legally and keep your doctor informed! Some people find that this is by far the most effective nausea remedy they can use. I did find that it helps, but I also don’t love it. There are ways to vape it or get a tincture and since vaping really feels like smoking and well…YUCK, I prefer to use the tincture. Vaping can hit your system a bit faster, but the tincture works pretty quickly as well and has the added benefit of being able to titrate up 1 drop at a time until you find what dose works well for you.
Increase your protein. I know it can be hard the days immediately surrounding treatment because if you’re anything like me, my diet is anything but normal during that time (hello homemade jello, dairy free ice cream pops and gluten free toast 10x a day!). But as soon as you are able to get back to “regular” foods and meals, try to increase your protein. If eating a steak doesn’t sound good to you, simply adding a scoop of protein to your daily protein shake can be helpful too.
Overall, listen to your body!! It knows what it needs and does a pretty good job of communicating. So if you are craving a certain kind of food, go with it! At least during the really tough days. You can use the rest of the days to fill your meals up with nourishing fruits, veggies and gut healing foods!
I hope this was helpful - do you know someone struggling with their chemo treatment?
Feel free to share this post! Know of additional remedies? Please drop them below!