Nausea and vomiting are commonly experienced and can be triggered by a broad range of stimuli such as travel, overindulgence, foodborne microbes, environmental toxins, and emotional stress. Nausea and vomiting are adaptive measures for survival and act as protective mechanisms for safeguarding health. The uncomfortable sensation of nausea trains the body to avoid ingestion of noxious substances, whereas vomiting (known as emesis) allows for the forceful, involuntary expulsion of ingested toxins from the gut.
While many botanicals can help ease the effects of nausea and vomiting—cardamom, chamomile, cinnamon, and lemon balm, to name a few—ginger stands out among them. The pungent phenolic compounds found in its rhizomes are thought to have a more localized influence on gut health, suggesting that ginger’s effects come from its relationship with the enteric nervous system.
The enteric nervous system (ENS) is often called the ‘second brain,’ and it is located within the gastrointestinal wall as a dense, double layered ‘net’ of neurons. Using hormones, neurotransmitters, and other signaling molecules to rapidly convey information, this neural net choreographs a sequence of reflexes with the lower brainstem that produces both nausea and vomiting when needed.
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