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IBS and Nausea: Causes & Management

IBS & Nausea

Nausea is one of the many symptoms experienced by those suffering from IBS. But while much has been written about managing pain and discomfort associated with IBS, nausea is rarely discussed. 

This article aims to shed light on the possible causes of nausea and offer practical tips for managing your symptoms. 

What Causes Nausea in IBS?

The digestive tract is home to one of the more complex nervous systems called the enteric nervous system. In some, these nerves are particularly sensitive and may have even been damaged by pathogens, disease, or environmental toxins such as pesticides, vaccinations, excessive antibiotics, steroids, or other pharmaceutical drugs. This can negatively impact the way the brain registers digestion, producing feelings of discomfort, pain, and unfortunately nausea. 

Nausea (and vomiting) can be triggered by several causes. Spoiled foods, side effects of medication, or pathogens such as a virus, bacteria, or parasites. Other causes include motion sickness, emotional or cognitive issues that affect the central nervous system, hormonal disturbances such as morning sickness, and pathologies of the GI tract where pain and discomfort may be experienced locally. 

IBS is often a multifaceted condition and may include reflux or GERD, dyspepsia or indigestion, and frequent, debilitating headaches or migraines. And these may all contribute to nausea. 

IBS Medication & Nausea 

Pharmaceutical medications for conditions associated with IBS, such as medication for depression, constipation, pain, or diarrhea, may contribute to nausea. For example, Lubiprostone, for constipation, has a known side effect of nausea. 

The use of antibiotics, NSAIDS such as Ibuprofen or Advil, antidepressants, birth control, and narcotics may all contribute to feelings of nausea. And placing excessive burden on a sluggish liver can also make us feel ‘liverish’, or nauseous.  

Managing Nausea in IBS 

From the study, Mechanisms of Nausea and Vomiting, we understand that ‘the processes of nausea and vomiting result from continuous interactions between the gastrointestinal tract, including its enteric nervous system, the CNS, and the autonomic nervous system.’  And from this, we can find potential ways to manage the symptoms of nausea. 

These include diet, lifestyle, and management of the central nervous system through somatic movement, meditation, and breathwork. In addition, herbs, acupuncture, and homeopathy may be used to control nausea and bring relief to those suffering. 

Dietary Tips for Managing Nausea 

Foods that place little burden on the digestive system and the liver are the best choices for those suffering from nausea. Check in with yourself before eating and ask yourself, does this appeal to me, do I like the smell of this food, will this be good for me? Start to listen to your body’s innate intelligence. 

Completely eliminate the following foods which may burden the liver and digestive system. 

  • All alcohol
  • Fast food, fried foods, and processed foods
  • Foods fortified with folic acid – most commercial cereals and grains, especially wheat
  • Commercial breads
  • Foods with added preservatives, additives, colors, and flavors
  • All sugar, except whole, low acidic fruits such as melon, honeydew, papaya, coconut, mango, watermelon, apples, pears, bananas, blueberries, raspberries, figs, and manuka or raw honey 
  • All sodas and fruit juices including natural ones, which are also high in sugar
  • Unnecessary pharmaceutical painkillers, antacids, and recreational drugs (although cannabis may be used to calm nausea)

Limit or restrict the following foods: 

  • Unfermented dairy products 
  • Cruciferous vegetables, which can be hard to digest (lacto-fermented vegetables are easier to digest and are high in natural and good gut bacteria) 
  • Beans, legumes, and grains that have not been pre-soaked
  • Rich foods such as tahini, eggs, egg, dairy-based desserts, and fatty red meat
  • Citrus fruits and highly acidic fruits
  • Coffee and caffeinated drinks

Mindfulness Around Meals 

Meals should be prepared quietly and consciously in a calm environment using natural ingredients, wooden chopping boards, cast iron or stainless steel pots and pans, glass or ceramic serving bowls, and natural crockery. Plastics, aluminum, and microwaves should be avoided.  

  • Wash your hands before eating
  • Sit down at a table without devices or screens
  • Eat on ceramic or glass crockery
  • Use chopsticks to slow yourself down
  • Chew your food well
  • Serve yourself only what you will finish
  • Digestive enzymes are diluted when we drink water so do not drink before your meal
  • Finish your meal with a cup of ginger or mint tea, hot lemon water, or a bowl of miso soup
  • Don’t eat after dinner to will allow your organs to do their work undisturbed while you sleep

Lifestyle Tips for Managing Nausea 

Stress does not only affect the mind. Our skin reacts to stress, our breath reacts to stress, our heart rate reacts to stress and so does our digestive system. 

The digestive tract is a living organism. It is constantly moving, contracting, and expanding, pushing our food through, pulling nutrients and liquids in and out, and directing a myriad of alchemical processes. Being a living organism, it responds and reacts to stress, be it the internal stress of a depleted microbiome, or the external stress of feeling emotionally unsafe. 

Breathwork, therapy, exercise, sunshine, nature and beach walks, and time with loved ones are some of the many ways stress can be alleviated and better managed. 

  • Limit screen time
  • Face the sun daily for at least twenty minutes in the morning to help set your cortisol and melatonin levels for the day
  • Spend time outside in nature
  • Ground yourself daily by walking barefoot on a patch of grass, or on the sand
  • Exercise consistently
  • Gentle exercises such as Yoga, Tai Chi, a brisk morning walk, a dip in the ocean, or a dance class are all ways to send healthy messages to the nervous system, body, and digestive system
  • Use good quality, mineral-rich salt and use it often to hydrate the body and address mineral and micronutrient deficiencies 
  • Break up your desk job with frequent short walks
  • Spend quality time with people who make you happy

It’s just as important to practice good sleep health. Prepare your mind and your space for sleep. Chamomile tea after a meal can help you wind down from a stressful day. Be off screens for at least half an hour before going to bed. Read a book to quiet down your nervous system and aim to be in bed by ten o’clock. 


Mediation is simply the art of focusing on one thing at the exclusion of all else. It can be the breath, an image, or a sound that resonates. During the process of single-minded focus, the mind will become distracted allowing ‘stresses’ that live in the memory of the cells to be released.

As we become aware of the distracted thought, belief, anxiety, or stress, we realize we exist separate from it and we simply allow it to pass, returning again to our point of focus. Doing this for twenty minutes, twice a day, will calm the nervous system, improve sleep quality, and bring greater awareness to our stress triggers. 


Breathwork oxygenates the blood and calms the nervous system. Here is a simple breathing exercises to start with: 

  1. Lie flat on a mat with your arms evenly at your sides, facing upwards
  2. Feel your body sink into the floor
  3. Check your alignment
  4. Inhale slowly, breathing life and oxygen into all parts of your body from your toes up to the crown of your head
  5. Exhale out disturbance and imbalance
  6. Return to the breath when you get distracted

Herbal Teas & Remedies 

Switch out coffee and black tea for herbal teas that reduce nausea such as ginger, chamomile, and mint, as well as anti-inflammatory drinks like turmeric coffee.  

Evinature’s Tips & Recommendations 

As research continues to untangle the stress-IBS relationship, it has become clear that stress and anxiety are often directly linked to IBS symptoms, especially abdominal cramping and multifood adverse reactions. For this reason, it’s important for IBS patients to take their mental health as seriously as their diet and invest in sustainable daily stress relief. 


Rebecca Bermeister


Rebecca Bermeister


This blog is not intended to provide diagnosis, treatment, or medical advice. The content provided is for informational purposes only. Please consult with a physician or healthcare professional regarding any medical or health related diagnosis or treatment options. The claims made regarding specific products in this blog are not approved to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.

Rebecca Bermeister


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