Updated February 28, 2022
Morning sickness is one of the most common issues that pregnant women deal with during their first trimester. For many women, morning sickness occurs anytime or is an all day problem, not just something they experience in the morning.
Herbalist, Rosemary Gladstar, explains, “a combination of factors, including sudden hormonal changes, shifting dietary needs, an insufficient amount of B vitamins, and/or low blood sugar, give rise to morning sickness. In particular, a rapid increase in the hormone chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) during the first few months of pregnancy is thought to be a cause of the complaint.”
Thankfully there are many safe natural remedies that can be helpful for easing nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.
A few simple diet and lifestyle changes can be helpful in managing morning sickness. Avoid spicy, greasy foods. Get up slowly and don’t move too suddenly to avoid triggering nausea. Low blood sugar can contribute to morning sickness in early pregnancy, so eating small meals throughout the day can be helpful in alleviating symptoms. Eat a snack every few hours if necessary and then enjoy something rich in protein before bed. Any of the following are good options:
- popcorn sprinkled with nutritional yeast
- whole grain crackers with nut butter
- vegetable or bone broths
In the morning, eat unsalted crackers before getting out of bed. Try taking a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar infused with quality bones in 8oz of warm water first thing; or drink a cup of anise or fennel seed tea instead of your morning coffee.
As mentioned above, a lack of vitamin B can also cause morning sickness. Gladstar states, “Pregnant women are often deficient in Vitamin B6. The increased stress on the body as it adapts to pregnancy depletes the B vitamins quickly. Because they are water-soluble, the B vitamins do not store readily in the system, and sufficient supplies must continuously be made available. A pregnant woman’s diet should contain foods rich in B vitamins” (Gladstar 182).
Herbalist, Susun Weed recommends to increase the amount of vitamin B complex and iron in the diet during pregnancy. Some herbs that are rich in iron are nettles, dandelion, alfalfa, yellow dock, chickweed, burdock, kelp, mullein, sorrel, parsley, comfrey, chicory, watercress, and fennel. Herbs rich in vitamin B complex include comfrey, red clover, and parsley (Weed 2115, 2136).
Another cause of morning sickness, is a build up of chemical by products from the increasing pregnancy hormones in the body. Weed says that walking a mile per day can be useful in preventing this. The fresh air can also help ease nausea.
In her book, Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year, Weed offers the following visualization for morning sickness, stating that it “can be used to give access to emotional aspects of the problem.”
She says, “Sit quietly and allow your mind to bring up images connected with the vomiting/nausea. What can’t you stomach? What do you want to clear out? What don’t you accept? Examine and acknowledge each image as it arises, then let it float away or dissolve. We are complex beings, capable of desiring and despising simultaneously; allow yourself to see what it is about the pregnancy that makes you want to throw up. Repeat the visualization once or twice a day for at least a week for best results” (Weed 517).
In addition to these diet & routine adjustments, herbs can also help relieve symptoms of morning sickness. The following are some favorites.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
This well-known culinary herb also possesses potent medicinal qualities. It is helpful for digestive upset or nausea and can be particularly useful for easing morning sickness. Weed recommends tablespoon doses of the tea anytime nausea occurs. It’s especially helpful for motion sickness and early morning nausea.
A combination of ginger and chamomile makes a lovely tea for soothing the stomach.
Raspberry leaf (Rubus spp)
Many women swear by raspberry leaf for gently easing nausea and upset stomach during pregnancy. Sip on the tea or suck on ice cubes made with the infusion in the morning before getting up. Drink a cup or two of raspberry leaf tea daily. It will help ease morning sickness and has many other benefits during pregnancy. (See my post Herbs for Pregnancy to learn more.)
Peppermint (Mentha piperita)/Spearmint (Mentha spicata)
Sip tea of the leaves first thing in the morning as a refreshing anti-nausea remedy. Both herbs are gently stimulating, brightening to the spirits, and beneficial to the digestive system.
Peach Leaf (Prunus persica)
Tea of the dried leaves can ease morning sickness. Blend with other herbs to improve flavor and effect.
Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)
This gentle herb can be used during pregnancy to help relieve stress and nervousness, and to help ease stomach issues. Sip the infusion throughout the day to ease nausea and digestive upset.
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
Fennel is helpful for easing stomach issues during pregnancy. Enjoy a tea of the seeds first thing in the morning or during/after meals to soothe the stomach and aid digestion. Prepare as an infusion (see my post Making Medicinal Teas for more information), using a half teaspoon of seeds per cup of water. Drink up to 3 cups daily.
In her book, Herbal Healing for Women, Gladstar gives a recipe for a tea blend that combines some of these herbs to ease morning sickness. She says, “the following formula was shared by a student of mine who had several months of intense morning sickness. She said this was the only preparation that brought relief” (Gladstar 184-185).
- 2 parts peppermint leaf
- 1 part red raspberry leaf
- 1 part peach leaf
- 1/4 part ginger root (grated)
To Make: Use four to six tablespoons of the herb mixture per quart of water. Add herbs to cold water and over a low heat, bring to a simmer. Remove from heat immediately and infuse for twenty minutes, keeping pot covered. Strain.
Typically, morning sickness symptoms subside after the first three months of pregnancy, but, unfortunately, some women do feel the effects much longer. Women experiencing severe and long lasting nausea and vomiting during pregnancy should consult with a trusted health care professional.
I found a combination of these suggestions brought me relief from nausea during my first trimester, and thankfully by my second trimester it eased up.
Morning sickness can certainly make early pregnancy a less than joyous time. Hoping some of these remedies are helpful for you!
Chevallier, Andrew. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine. 317.
Gladstar, Rosemary. Herbal Healing for Women. 28-29, 176, 182-185, 243-244.
Weed, Susun. Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year. 426, 456, 490- 517, 706, 2115, 2136.
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