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Other ways of controlling sickness

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This page tells you about ways of controlling sickness you can use alongside anti sickness medicines. There is information on this page about

 

Complementary therapies

Anti sickness drugs are the best way to control sickness. But some complementary therapies may also help. Some people find that relaxation techniques such as visualisation help. Others have found hypnotherapy and acupuncture helpful, especially in controlling anticipatory nausea and vomiting.

 

Ginger

Some people find ginger very good for controlling nausea. People say it is particularly good for motion sickness. You can use ginger any way you like, for example as crystallised stem ginger. Or you can add freshly ground ginger to your favourite dishes or to hot water or tea to make a soothing drink. You can try sipping ginger ale. Fizzy drinks sometimes help to reduce nausea too.

 

Peppermint

Peppermint is another remedy that some people find helps with nausea and sickness. It is thought that it helps to slow down the gut. You can take mints, or drink it as peppermint tea.

 

Anti sickness bracelets

Some people wear stretchy bracelets on their wrists to help stop them feeling sick. These are also called acupressure bracelets or Seabands. The bracelet includes a hard plastic stud. You position the stud in the middle of the inside of your wrist. The aim is that the acupressure point there helps to control sickness. It may help calm the vomiting centre of the brain and reduce nausea. Seabands can be particularly useful for motion sickness. Research has looked at how well they help to control sickness caused by chemotherapy and some studies suggest that they may help. We need more research to confirm this.

 

Diet

What you eat, the amount, and when you eat, can all play an important part in helping to control feeling and being sick. Below are some hints that may help control your sickness

  • Avoid eating or preparing food when you feel sick
  • Avoid fried foods, fatty foods or foods with a strong smell
  • Eat cold or slightly warm food if the smell of cooked or cooking food makes you feel sick
  • Don't mix hot and cold foods
  • Eat several small meals and snacks each day and chew your food well
  • Eat light, bland foods, such as plain toast or crackers
  • Have a small meal a few hours before treatment (but not just before)
  • Try to avoid activity straight after eating
  • Avoid brushing your teeth just after eating
  • Drink lots of liquid, taking small sips slowly throughout the day
  • Drink clear, sweet liquids, like fizzy drinks or fruit juice (except orange or grapefruit juice, which may irritate your stomach)
  • Drink ice cold or clear fluids
  • Avoid filling your stomach with a large amount of liquid before eating
  • Try to drink plenty to replace the fluid you've lost, even if you can't eat
  • If you have constipation, eat more fibre, raw fruits, cereals, fluids and vegetables
  • Prune juice and hot drinks may help to make your bowels work if you are constipated
  • Eating fresh or tinned pineapple chunks helps to keep your mouth fresh and moist
  • If you are worried about losing weight, ask your doctor to prescribe liquid nutritional drinks that you can drink as well as having regular meals
  • Don't give yourself a hard time if you really don't feel like eating for a few days after chemotherapy – it is very important that you drink, but you can make up for lost calories between treatments
  • Try not to get over tired – you may find everything more difficult to cope with if you are exhausted

If you would like more information about anything to do with diet, contact one of the cancer information organisations on our organisations page. You can also contact our cancer information nurses. They would be happy to help.

If you are worried about the effects of chemotherapy on your digestive system, make an appointment to see your doctor to talk over any problems.

 

Cannabis

You may also know cannabis as marijuana, pot, grass, weed, hemp, hashish or dope. Scientific names include Cannabis sativa and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Cannabis is a plant that grows wild in many hotter regions of the world. Parts of the plant have been used for centuries in herbal remedies.

In the past few years cannabis has been the subject of a lot of medical research and in the media a lot. Possessing any part of the cannabis plant is still illegal in most western countries, including the USA and the UK. Because it is illegal, there is a lot of controversy over using it for medical reasons. Some studies have found that smoking cannabis or taking it by mouth can help to control sickness and pain in people with cancer and other illnesses. But there are concerns about possible harmful side effects, particularly if the drug is smoked.

There are over 60 active ingredients in the cannabis plant. These are known as cannabinoids. The strongest cannabinoid is the chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is the basis of a man made cannabinoid drug called nabilone.

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Updated: 26 June 2013