Many with endometriosis suffer from the constant debilitating symptom of nausea. But why should this disease cause nausea?
Nausea can be so bad for many that it can cause vomiting on a regular basis. For some the nausea is only really acute just before and during menstruation - your body is flooded with negative prostaglandins just before menstruation and this can cause nausea. For others the nausea can be at any time of the month.
Pain and nausea connection
There is a strong relationship between pain and nausea, not only with endometriosis, but with many other diseases that cause pain. The constant stress of being in pain somehow increases the pain perception in the brain. Additionally, the gut is well known for being the second brain, so the emotional effects of constant pain also affects functions of the gut. This can have the knock-on effect of causing nausea and gastrointestinal distress.
Neurotransmitters and pain
Many neurotransmitters are produced in the gut. Some neurotransmitters are responsible for the transmission of pain signals, while others help to block pain. Research is still ongoing into the relationship between neurotransmitters and pain, but looking after your gut health can help to improve brain health and your emotions as well as help with pain.
Serotonin is well known as the neurotransmitter being responsible for emotional well-being and a happy mood. A lesser known function of serotonin is to help block excess pain signals. 95% of serotonin is produced in the gut and one way to increase serotonin production has been found by using probiotics. There is more advice about probiotics to help endometriosis HERE
Taking a tryptophan supplement or eating foods that help the production of tryptophan can help to increase serotonin levels. Tryptophan is an amino acid that converts to serotonin. Tryptophan is found in foods high in protein and the best and safest sources for those with endometriosis are turkey and salmon.
Bright light is another way to boost serotonin levels. Try to get natural sunlight exposure early in the morning. If you cannot mange to get out into the sunlight or if is winter time, then consider using a light box. The additional benefits or a light box is it will help to reset your circadian rhythm and will help to boost your natural melatonin production.
Endorphins are also well known for helping to reduce pain and the best way to boost endorphins is through exercise. Interestingly, this natural painkiller is closely related to morphine. However, the problem for those with endometriosis is that doing any exercise can be really difficult due to weakness, fatigue and pain. This becomes a catch 22 situation. Gentle exercise may be the best solution like yoga and gentle walking.
Diet and nausea
Many in the endometriosis community who advise about diet only go as far as suggesting what diet changes to make to help with nausea without joining the dots of the complex chemistry that is involved.
I am a huge advocate of diet to help with endometriosis and diet was a huge part of my own recovery from endometriosis. The nausea caused by endometriosis will have more than one cause beyond just simple diet issues.
Being mindful of your diet choices can help with many symptoms, but the body is a complex system and the whole body/mind system needs to be taken into consideration. This will include emotional and mental health along with physical health.
Prostaglandins and nausea
Prostaglandins and very complex chemicals and are responsible for many bodily processes including inflammation, pain perception, are required for ovulation, cause contractions of the womb, and can flood the system at the onset of menstruation including the digestive tract.
There are positive and negative prostaglandins which provide different reactions in the body – prostaglandins PG1. PG2, and PG3. It is the PG2 that causes pain and can also affect the digestive tract and your intestines. This can result with the feeling of nausea and vomiting. You can reduce the negative prostaglandins by the types of foods you eat, especially dairy and red meat. Read more about prostaglandins and endometriosis HERE
Reducing inflammation can help with gut health as well as help with endometriosis. Some really helpful anti-inflammatory supplements to try include digestive enzymes – nattokinase, bromelain, papain and quercetin. Turmeric is another good anti-inflammatory and has many health benefits as well as ginger. As mentioned above, adding in dietary support that helps to promote healthy neurotransmitters may also assist with pain and nausea.
Other causes of nausea
Other issues that may cause nausea are the medications you are taking to try and manage the disease. Many medications have side-effects and this can include nausea.
My own run-in with nausea was actually caused by birth control pills. I had worked hard to manage my endometriosis through natural remedies and diet, but I had a problem at one time of my cycle being too short and having a period every 3 weeks.
My GP put me on a BCP to help regulate my cycle. I took it one night and the next morning I could hardly lift my head without feeling really sick, weak and nauseous. I tried once more with another dose and the next morning the same thing happened, so I threw the pills away. Eventually my cycle returned to normal by itself and I never took a BCP again. So my own issue with nausea was a side effect of medication.
Your liver may also be stressed and over-loaded with toxins and this can cause stress on your system which may include digestive upsets. Try doing a liver detox through a gentle diet and adding some milk thistle to help clean your liver and ensure you drink plenty of plain water. Also try to reduce your dependency on pain meds as these can really mess up your liver, especially when taken long term.
Tips from other endometriosis sufferers to help with nausea
Many with endometriosis have learnt of different remedies that helps them manage or reduce the nausea. This includes:
To help manage nausea with endometriosis you can try the following:
About the Author
My name is Carolyn Levett, the Founder of endo-resolved - I am an Integrative Health Coach having studied nutrition, naturopathy, aromatherapy as well as being a published author. I used to suffer from severe endometriosis and was able to regained my health and heal from the disease with the support of nutrition and natural therapies.
My motivation is to help other women with endometriosis to heal their bodies so they may overcome this awful disease without having to rely on toxic drugs and surgeries which can cause further damage - with healing thoughts, Carolyn.