Nausea & Vomiting

June 23, 2003

4 Min Read
Nausea & Vomiting

Nausea & Vomiting

Another digestive disorder that affects the stomach is nausea, which usuallyprecedes vomiting and is associated with diminished functional activity of thestomach and altered activity of the small intestine. Nausea and vomiting areassociated with many organic and functional disorders, including acuteappendicitis or intestinal obstruction. Viral, bacterial and parasiticinfections of the GI tract are also potential causes of severe nausea andvomiting.

In terms of studying complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for nauseaand vomiting, several studies have been conducted in the realm of pregnancy.Morning sickness affects approximately two-thirds of pregnant women to varyingdegrees, and CAM is often employed to combat the debilitating symptoms.

Research out of the University of Greenwich in London suggested thedismissive attitude of physicians regarding pregnancy-related nausea andvomiting has caused women to try a range of CAM therapies, although "theevidence of efficacy is variable."

  1. The review also indicated that while women realize the risks of taking medication during pregnancy, they do not see CAM in the same light. Women do turn to CAM for easing stomach ailments during pregnancy, however, and several studies have shown benefits. A survey conducted by The Motherisk Program in Toronto indicated 61 percent of 70 women used CAM therapies, with the most popular being ginger, vitamin B6 and acupressure.

  2. A research review conducted at Columbia University in Washington indicated the available preliminary data supports the need for further research on ginger and vitamin B6

  3. Another research review out of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, stated ginger and vitamin B6 have been shown in two trials each to reduce pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting

  4. The same researchers also stated multivitamins are safe and effective for protecting against nausea and vomiting due to pregnancy. A double blind, placebo-controlled trial of ginger for pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting indicated the herb was safe and effective.

  5. Researchers from Chiang Mai University in Thailand randomly allocated 70 pregnant women at or before 17 weeks' gestation to take either 1 g/d of oral ginger or placebo for four days. At a one-week follow-up, 28 of 32 women in the ginger group reported improvements in nausea symptoms compared to 10 of 35 in the placebo group. In addition, the women in the treatment group reported fewer vomiting episodes compared to the placebo group. In addition to pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting, ginger may also be useful for other causes of sickness. Researchers at Thammasat University in Thailand randomly assigned 80 women who were undergoing outpatient gynecological laparoscopy to receive either a ginger supplement or placebo one hour prior to the operation.

  6. Researchers noted a significant difference in the incidence of nausea between the groups, with 57.5 percent of those in the placebo group and only 30 percent in the treatment group reporting nausea. Contrarily, a similar study of 180 women conducted by researchers at Philipps-University of Marburg in Germany failed to show a benefit of ginger supplements for postoperative nausea.

  7. As for motion sickness, investigators at the National Yang-Ming University in Taipei, Taiwan, feel ginger may act as a novel agent for preventing and treating the condition.

  8. They randomly assigned 13 volunteers with a history of motion sickness to receive ginger or placebo before undergoing circular vection. Compared to placebo, ginger reduced the occurrence of nausea, increased the time before nausea onset and reduced recover time after vection cessation. In addition to ginger, several other herbs have been employed for reducing morning sickness due to pregnancy, according to a research review out of Charles Sturt University in Australia.

  9. The literature review indicated of 300 non-medical sources studied, 75 cited the use of herbs in pregnancy, with ginger, chamomile, peppermint and raspberry leaf being the most popular.


  1. Tiran D. "Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy: safety and efficacy of self-administered complementary therapies." Complement Ther Nurs Midwifery. 8, 4:191-6, 2002.

  2. Hollyer T et al. "The use of CAM by women suffering from nausea and vomiting during pregnancy." BMC Complement Altern Med. 2, 1:5, 2002.

  3. Fugh-Berman A, Kronenberg F. "Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in reproductive-age women: a review of randomized controlled trials." Reprod Toxicol. 17, 2:137-52, 2003.

  4. Niebyl JR, Goodwin TM. "Overview of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy with an emphasis on vitamins and ginger." Am J Obstet Gynecol. 185, 5 Suppl Understanidng:S253-5, 2002.

  5. Vutyavanich T et al. "Ginger for nausea and vomiting in pregnancy: randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled trial." Obstet Gynecol. 97, 4:577-82, 2001.

  6. Pongrojpaw D, Chiamchanya C. "The efficacy of ginger in prevention of post-operative nausea and vomiting after outpatient gynecological laparoscopy." J Med Assoc Thai. 86, 3:244-50, 2003.

  7. Eberhart LH et al. "Ginger does not prevent postoperative nausea and vomiting after laparoscopic surgery." Anesth Analg. 96, 4:995-8, 2003.

  8. Lien HC et al. "Effects of ginger on motion sickness and gastric slow-wave dysrhythmia induced by circular vection." Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 284, 3:G481-9, 2003.

  9. Wilkinson JM. "What do we know about herbal morning sickness treatments? A literature survey." Midwidery. 16, 3:224-8, 2000.

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