Chinese Medicine for Nausea and Vomiting

We’ve all been there, hunkered down over the toilet with an upset stomach.  Whether from the stomach flu, something you ate, or a few too many cocktails, an upset stomach is no fun.  Most of us have almost funny stories of vomiting in inappropriate places or at the wrong time.  This includes my kid, who has never been able to make it to the toilet in time.  The one time he made it to the toilet; he failed to lift the lid, so it doesn’t count as a home run.


There is nothing funny, however, about chronic nausea, whether due to morning sickness or as the result of chemotherapy treatments.  It can result in dehydration, exhaustion, weight loss, and may aggravate already existing health conditions.


In Chinese medicine, nausea and vomiting are the result of something called counterflow Qi, or energy moving in the wrong direction.  Ideally, stomach energy moves downward, but under certain circumstances, it can move in the wrong direction.  Other examples of counterflow Qi include the hiccups, heartburn, coughing, and in some instances, diarrhea.  Nausea and vomiting can have a number of underlying causes in Chinese medicine, including a Liver/Stomach disharmony, food stagnation, an external pathogen (the flu), and even phlegm and dampness.


Chinese medicine has much to offer to relieve nausea and vomiting.  One of the best known remedies for nausea is ginger root.  Ginger was found to be effective in relieving chemotherapy related nausea in a recent study at the University of Rochester.  The results of the study indicated that ginger capsules taken prior to the administration of chemotherapy drugs were effective in decreasing nausea in cancer patients.  Ginger can also be taken in the form of tea, or can be grated into food or taken with hot water.  In addition to ginger, there are a number of Chinese herbal formulas that effectively calm an upset stomach. 


Acupuncture treatments can also successfully treat nausea and vomiting.  An acupuncturist would determine the underlying pattern causing your nausea, and develop a treatment to relieve the symptoms and deal with the cause.  One point that you can use at home with acupressure is called Pericardium 6.  It’s found on the palm side of your wrist about two inches from your wrist crease (in the direction of your elbow), right between the tendons.  Feel around in the area for a slightly tender spot, and stimulate that point by applying pressure for a few minutes with your finger or thumb.

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