Ask the Doctor: Nausea Relief

Posted on May 1, 2013 in Research

Q: I’m having a lot of nausea with Adriamycin chemotherapy. The medications help some, but I’m still pretty queasy. What else can I try?

— Sarah in Houston, Texas

A:  Helpful therapies to try include ginger, acupuncture or acupressure, aromatherapy with peppermint, or hypnosis.

In a clinical trial, acupressure wristbands were as effective as the antinausea drug Compazine. I recommend Seaband or Bioband wristbands.

To get help from ginger, start it at least 2 days before chemotherapy, and continue for several days after chemotherapy. The strength of the ginger extract is a matter of personal preference. Some people get results with ginger ale, while others need a stronger version such as candied ginger or ginger syrup. If you are taking a blood thinner or have surgery scheduled, talk to your naturopathic oncologist before taking ginger.

Regarding medications, talk with your oncologist or family physician to ensure that you have the most appropriate anti nausea medications. Typically, the oncologist starts with weaker medications and then adds stronger ones if you need them.  For example, if you’re still nauseous while taking Compazine and lorazepam, they may add Emend with your next chemotherapy.

If you’re having reflux or an acidic sensation in your throat, then stomach irritation may be contributing to your nausea. In this situation, natural therapies can help by soothing the lining of the stomach. Gut healers like glutamine or slippery elm bark tea can be very helpful in this situation, while ginger would actually make the problem worse.

There are lots of good options to try. Your naturopathic oncologist can help you to identify the best options for you.