While research goes back and forth on the extent of its effectiveness as a natural remedy, ginger has a long history of being used to treat nausea, stomachaches, and diarrhea. The Chinese have used ginger to treat a variety of digestive and pain issues for more than 2,000 years, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. It’s unclear exactly how ginger works to ease nausea, but it’s thought that active components, such as gingerol, directly affect the digestive and central nervous systems.
"[It’s] an excellent treatment for nausea, especially in pregnancy,” says Lauren Richter, DO, assistant professor of family and community medicine at the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. Research indicates that short-term use of ginger is safe and relieves nausea symptoms during pregnancy, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH).
More research is needed to gain a clear understanding of what ginger can and cannot do, but studies suggest it is an effective treatment for post-operative and chemotherapy-related nausea, as well. A 2012 study published in Integrative Cancer Therapies found that, out of a group of 100 women with advanced breast cancer, those who took ginger following chemotherapy experienced significantly less nausea in the first six to 24 hours post-treatment than those in the control group.
There are many ways to get your ginger: Dr. Richter recommends using raw ginger in cooking, drinking it in tea, or eating candied ginger. “Dissolve it in the mouth like a mint,” she says.
Speaking of mint, peppermint is another traditional remedy that’s been around for a long time. Both peppermint leaves and peppermint oil are helpful in dealing with indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome, according to the NCCIH.
“Peppermint is also wonderful for nausea,” says Richter. Thanks to its calming and numbing effect, peppermint relaxes your stomach muscles so that bile can break down fats and food can move through the stomach quickly, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. That said, if you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), you should not use peppermint. Peppermint comes in many forms and treatments, including ointments for skin irritation. Some studies even suggest that the scent of peppermint oil could ease nausea.
Peppermint tea is probably the most common way to take this remedy, but it is also available in capsule form or as an essential oil. “This is also very safe in pregnancy,” adds Richter.