School of Ayurvedic Diet & Digestion
Are you prone to a problem with 'Frequent Nausea'?
Find your imbalances and create a diet for your Digestion by taking the free digestion quiz.
Nobody likes vomit. Especially other people's vomit. I remember the night my little sister vomited on me while I was sleeping. When my eyes came into focus, I found my sister had not only vomited, she had also passed out. Waking up in a puddle of vomit is always unsavory, but for me, it was also a learning experience. Years later, as a practitioner, my ayurvedic brain questioned, 'Why did she pass out?" I started to research, and realized that passing out after vomiting was normal, and that gave me an important clue to why vomiting happens, and how to prevent nausea & vomiting.
Passing out after vomiting is called vasovagal syncope. Vasovagal syncope is when over-stimulation of the vagus nerve causes such a drop in heart rate and blood pressure that it leads to fainting. My sister experiences this every time she throws up. Vagus what? The vagus nerve is a fascinating nerve that governs nausea and vomiting. When it is overstimulated, it makes you nauseous. The vagus nerve also governs your digestive system, your ear (think motion sickness) and coughing. It is the centerpiece of the parasympathetic nervous system, activated whenever you are in rest & digest mode. Because of this, relaxation, the vagus nerve, and nausea are paradoxically related.
At first glance, nausea doesn't feel very relaxing. The heaviness of nausea often gets overlooked because vomiting is so dramatic. On second glance, you'll notice that before you vomit there is a feeling of surrender. When you are nauseous you don't feel like moving. You make a semi-conscious noise like 'Ughhh' as you lay, listlessly, on the couch. Nausea is languid. When you are nauseous, even thinking takes too much effort. Your cheeks feel puffy and you look green like a cartoon character that has smoked too many cigars.
Nausea is characteristic of vagus nerve stimulation. The emotions and sensations you get when nauseous teach you what vagus nerve stimulation feels like. If you've ever been curious about your vagus nerve, remember that when you are feeling nauseous you are essentially feeling your vagus nerve.
Vomiting, as we've mentioned, is a stimulated state. One could even say that nausea and vomiting are opposites. A refreshing bout of vomit is your body's answer to a heavy state of nausea. After vomiting you feel light. Before vomiting, you feel sour and heavy. In Ayurvedic terms - nausea is governed by excess apana (which is downward moving), and vomiting by excess udana (which is upward moving).
Soothing doesn't help a nauseous person. A nauseous person needs to be refreshed. A fan, sprinkling cool water on your face, a rush of cold air - these are more therapeutic for nausea. A cold infusion (cold tea) with aromatic herbs like mint may be helpful as well. Light pleasant smells such as mint leaves can also help. Introducing lightness helps a person with nausea.
Conversely, rich, oily foods make nausea worse. A nauseous person may recoil from overly saccharine foods like candy. Gooey foods like oatmeal or soggy french toast are especially nauseating.
By studying the vagus nerve, you discover these and other surprising remedies to nausea. Like coughing. When you cough, it reduces nausea. A nauseous person needs to distract themselves from the nausea. If they sit around thinking about it, they will throw up. Don't relax when you are nauseous - keep moving.
Don't forget to look for other underlying causes as well when treating nausea. Bloating and constipation can make you feel nauseous. Hormonal imbalances may trigger nausea, such as during pregnancy. Nausea may be caused by irritation of the stomach from foods with acrid taste (such as accidentally swallowing a bit of chewing tobacco), or even food poisoning or toxicity exposure (such as chemotherapy).
In many cases, nausea is a sign of too much mucus (Kapha) in the body. Mucus in the stomach develops when you have eaten too many cold, heavy foods like dairy and sugar. Mucus also develops when you eat foods that don't digest well together - like yogurt with fruit. Overeating can lead to excess mucus. That was the case with my sister, she ate too much before going to bed. Anytime food sits too long in the stomach it makes you nauseous. Sometimes, people have upper respiratory congestion that drips down into the stomach.
Often nausea is an important sign that something is wrong. For example, if you have eaten rancid food, or ingested a poison. Never suppress this kind of nausea because vomiting may be the perfect remedy for you. But, if you have chronic nausea without an underlying treatable cause, these tips might help.
Pitta nausea is often associated with sensitivity to toxic exposure and this relates to an overworked liver. Pitta folks can also be nauseated by strong smells and because of irritation or inflammation in the stomach, as in the case of an ulcer. A high fever or extended exposure to heat - like on a hot summer's day - can be nauseating. Migraines and headaches often relate to a Pitta imbalance and are also associated with nausea.
Vata types of nausea are characterized by stress and anxiety or digestive weakness. Stress moves energy away from digestion toward the extremities to prepare for fight or flight. This can leave food hanging out in the gut for too long resulting in nausea. Any time the digestive fire is weak and we add food to it, there is a risk of nausea. It's best to wait until you experience true hunger and then promptly eat.
The content for this article was taken from the Master's in Ayurveda Digestion & Nutrition 500 hour certification program on Joyful Belly.
ANTIEMETICHerbs that reduce nausea or stop vomiting.
APPETIZERHerbs that cleanse the palate & stimulate hunger or desire to eat.
CARMINATIVEStimulates the release of gas. Helpful for bloating or cramping abdominal pain. Propels food downward.
DIGESTIVEHerbs that encourage healthy digestive.
Symptoms Tell A StoryThe first step to healing is learning patterns from your symptoms. Symptoms are clues that reveal underlying imbalances, showing you where your body is weak. Specifically, they reveal the doshas & qualities that may have become aggravated. If you notice a quality or dosha appears next to many of your symptoms, it helps you establish a pattern that may be systemic.
|GUNA||FOODS TO AVOID||DO YOU HAVE THIS IMBALANCE?|
|AVOID THESE OILY FOODS THAT MAY AGGRAVATE FREQUENT NAUSEA||
Status UnknownTake these quizzes to find out if you have an imbalance of 'Oily' guna
|AVOID THESE HEAVY FOODS THAT MAY AGGRAVATE FREQUENT NAUSEA||
Status UnknownTake these quizzes to find out if you have an imbalance of 'Heavy' guna
|AVOID THESE GOOEY FOODS THAT MAY AGGRAVATE FREQUENT NAUSEA||
Status UnknownTake these quizzes to find out if you have an imbalance of 'Gooey' guna
|AVOID THESE DIFFICULT FOODS THAT MAY AGGRAVATE FREQUENT NAUSEA||
Status UnknownTake these quizzes to find out if you need to decrease Difficult to digest foods
|AVOID THESE SWEET FOODS THAT MAY AGGRAVATE FREQUENT NAUSEA||
Status UnknownTake these quizzes to find out if you have an imbalance of 'Sweet' taste
To learn more about the symbols above, click on them.
On Joyful Belly, we've created an extensive categorization of food in relation to qualities (gunas). By eating an optimal diet that balances your gunas, your whole body is strengthened and the conditions that created the disorder are removed. Once the root causes of the disease are removed, the disease lessens in strength or disappears altogether. Additional remedies - such as herbs and lifestyle practices - focused on the specific disorder, can greatly enhance your healing.
About the AuthorJohn Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda. His approach to Ayurveda exudes a certain ease, which many find enjoyable and insightful. His online course Balance Your Ayurvedic Diet in a Week provides tools for gracefully healing with Ayurveda to thousands. John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda , which specializes in digestive tract pathology & Ayurvedic nutrition. John and his wife Natalie recently published Explore Your Hunger: A Guide to Hunger, Appetite & Food.
John's interest in Ayurveda and digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, including his public service work in South Asia. John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion. John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing. In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.
John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots, and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church. Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick. That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well.