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How to get Your Gut to Start Moving Things Down - 5 Simple Strategies for Chronic Nausea

Updated: May 28, 2023

Chronic and recurring nausea is an unbearable feeling. It is debilitating to feel sick all the time and one of the most common reasons I see for breakfast skipping.

Nausea is most commonly caused by dysfunctional movement in the gut. Things are going up when really they should be going down. This may seem a bit obvious so let me explain the most common reason for why this happening.

Dysfunctional movement in the gut is caused when we are over-activating our sympathetic nervous system (a.k.a. fight/flight), particularly around meal times. When we are in fight/flight mode our body is prepping us to run or fight off a predator. In this moment we do not need to be digesting our food. Therefore to not waste energy digesting, our brain tries to prevent us from taking in food (i.e. nausea or lack of appetite) or will trigger us to purge what's already there (i.e. vomiting and/or diarrhea)

While the long-term strategy for nausea will involve regulating your nervous system to turn down that fight/flight activation, there are some simple short-term strategies that help start this process.

These are things I commonly prescribe in my practice but remember it's important to check with your own healthcare provider before starting anything new and to rule out other possible causes of nausea.

A hand holding a cup of water with pieces of ginger and lemon in it; ginger is good for nausea

1. Sip on tea: Drinking tea is one of the most relaxing and soothing things you can do when you're feeling nauseous. Warm drinks relax the muscles of the stomach and gently stimulate digestion to start which will turn down nausea

Ginger tea, in particular, is known for its anti-nausea properties and can help settle your stomach.

Two hands inserting an acupuncture needle into someone's back. Two additional acupuncture needles have already been inserted

2. Acupuncture and acupressure: Acupuncture and acupressure can help regulate your nervous system and alleviate nausea symptoms.

The Pericardium (PC) 6 point, found along the inner forearm, is well known for reducing nausea and calming the mind. It's the target of motion sickness bracelets.

Acupuncture has a profound impact on regulating our nervous system and supporting all kinds of digestive concerns. Read more about what to expect from acupuncture here.

A women wearing a brown romper and white sneakers walking down a wooden path in a wooded area. You cannot see the woman's head or face

3. Gentle movement: While high-intensity exercise can exacerbate nausea symptoms, gentle movement can help activate your parasympathetic state and reduce anxiety. Walking or stretching can help burn off some of the adrenaline in your system and promote a sense of calm.

Two hands cupped to catch a stream of water; the water is dripping of their fingers

4. Cold water exposure: Cold water exposure, such as plunges, face splashes, and contrast showers, can help activate your calm state. This may seem counter-intuitive but it's like pressing the reset button on your nervous system.

Drinking really cold water can also help with nausea, although some people may prefer warm drinks instead.

A triangular block of cheese with herbs on top sitting on a wood platter with 4 crackers and a cheese knife surrounding it

5. Eat protein: While eating may be the last thing on your mind when you're feeling nauseous, eating small amounts of protein-rich foods like meat or nuts can help settle your stomach. Start with a carbohydrate-rich food like crackers, then slowly introduce protein-rich foods as you feel comfortable.

Tired of suffering through nausea? Let's chat about making a plan that is designs especially for you. Book a discovery consult here.


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