Herbal Medicine for Morning Sickness

When you are hoping to be radiant at that special time of creating a new life, the last thing you want is to be feeling sick all the time, and maybe vomiting as well. Unfortunately morning sickness is an all too common occurrence, and for a few poor souls can continue not only throughout the day in the first three months, but for much of the pregnancy too. For some sufferers this can be a difficult ailment to treat no matter what resources you have available, as Prince William’s wife Kate has unfortunately discovered, but fortunately many sufferers are able to enjoy some relief from morning sickness using simple herbal remedies, and perhaps some dietary adjustments.

Here are a few tips that might help. If you try them and are still suffering, consider making an appointment for a herbal consultation with Kevin Orbell-McSean, the medical herbalist here at the Evergreen Clinic of Natural Medicine. Over the course of the consultation Kevin will thoroughly review your symptoms and make up an appropriate herbal medicine for your morning sickness. While there are some herbs that must be avoided when pregnant, others may safely be taken, so there are options for tackling your morning sickness symptoms with herbal medicine.

Research has shown that there are likely to be several different causes for morning sickness, which explains why one remedy may work for you but not for someone else. If the old standby of a slice of dry toast before you get out of bed in the morning fails to work, these simple herbal remedies for morning sickness, readily available in health food and other stores, that might help relieve your symptoms.

A likely cause of nausea in most sufferers of morning sickness is the surge in oestrogen and progesterone during the first three months of pregnancy, which dies down in the second trimester as the placenta takes over hormone control from the ovaries. The liver is the chemical powerhouse of the body, breaking down oestrogen to regulate hormone levels. It may be that your liver is struggling to cope with the hormonal surge in early pregnancy and needs a bit of help. One of the finest herbal remedies to safely tweak liver function is the humble dandelion root (not the leaf which is a strong diuretic, the last thing you need if you’re vomiting and at risk of dehydration).

For best effect you need the dried, chopped and roasted dandelion root rather than the instant version of dandelion coffee, available here in the Evergreen Clinic and from most health food stores. Treat the pieces of roasted root just like coffee beans – whiz up in a coffee grinder and brew one spoon per cup in a cafetiere or teapot. Drink unsweetened for best effect, as it is the slightly bitter taste stimulating the taste buds on your tongue that boosts the liver to work more effectively. Safe and natural, it makes a pleasant and refreshing hot drink. The globe artichoke (the thistle-like vegetable, not the Jerusalem artichoke) has a similarly good effect, making a very tasty hor d’houvre as well as stimulating the liver.

Chamomile tea can be helpful from a couple of angles. As well as gently helping the liver to work more effectively, it is also soothing to the stomach and pleasantly calming to the nerves, making it a helpful tea to drink if stress and anxiety are playing a part. Lime flower is another calming tea that is helpful for the digestive system, and may help your varicose veins as well as well as your nausea.

One of the prime herbs for nausea is ginger, which works very well for motion sickness and may help morning sickness too in some sufferers. Dried is better than fresh thanks to a chemical change that takes place in the root when drying, but fresh is helpful and pleasant too. The warming nature of the root stimulates blood flow in the stomach and has a gentle antispasmodic effect. A level teaspoon of powder in a cup of hot water or herb tea is a good way to take it, or grate an inch of fresh root into a teapot, add boiling water and brew for five minutes before drinking. Ginger root gets hotter as it ages, so if you don’t want it too spicy hot, buy the freshest you can find. Sweeten to taste, as you wish.  Spearmint leaves, readily available in teabags, are also anti-nausea, and are preferable to peppermint, being a softer, gentler flavour.

Don’t be shy of combining two or three different herbs in a pot to enjoy a combined effect, and enjoy the herb teas through the day, not just when you feel nauseous, when eating or drinking anything at all may be unappealing.

For some sufferers, it may be that that their morning sickness is linked to overall poor nutrition, which can easily happen in this age of convenience food. In this case, that wonderful Irish sea-herb carrageen has two great advantages – it is famously soothing for the stomach but is also rich in minerals and protein. (Not to be confused with the commercial food additive, carrageenan.) Readily available in health food and other shops, carrageen usually has a recipe or two on the label, which you can easily make up.

Dry arrowroot biscuits are also nutritious, and easy on a delicate stomach. Have one by the bed, ready to eat before you get up in the morning. Some people find it best to eat their dry snack, like an arrowroot biscuit or piece of dry toast, before even sitting up in bed. Young nettle leaves (cook like spinach) are also highly nutritious and will be poking their heads above the soil from spring on. They lose their sting with cooking, and are packed with valuable mineral trace elements. If sourcing them fresh is not convenient, nettle tea made from the dried leaf, also available in tea bags, is an easy way of enjoying their benefits.

And if all else fails there is some consolation in knowing that women who suffer vomiting as well as nausea are less likely to suffer miscarriage, stillbirths and premature delivery.

These are just a few of the herbs for morning sickness that nature has to offer, but if simple self-help measures are not working for you, phone the clinic anytime Monday to Friday during office hours to make an appointment with Kevin Orbell-McSean, the Evergreen Clinic’s medical herbalist, who has for many years treated sufferers of morning sickness with herbal medicine.


Kevin Orbell-McSean is a Member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists, the oldest professional body of herbalists in the world, which celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2014. Kevin has been in herbal practice for twenty-five years, and in 1990 established the Evergreen Clinic of Natural Medicine in Cork City. He continues a family tradition of professional herbal practice that stretches back nearly one hundred years.

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