How to Get Rid of Dry Heaving: The Most Effective Natural Remedies

How to Get Rid of Dry Heaving: Effective Natural Remedies
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Dry heaving is an involuntary retching action similar to vomiting but when nothing comes up. Having dry heaves is a very unpleasant experience, especially if it happens frequently and in the company of others. There are many different reasons for dry heaving and in most cases, the dry heaves should go away on their own. For example, pregnancy, food poisoning, stress, and drinking too much alcohol can all cause retching but should resolve itself when the underlying cause is gone.

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There are many effective home remedies that help to soothe your stomach muscles and stop dry heaving. Natural remedies like ginger, peppermint, and drinking plenty of fluids have a calming and cleansing effect and will quickly put an end to the dry heaves.

In this article, you will find out how to get relief from the discomfort that dry heaving causes. You will also learn how to prevent or reduce further bouts of retching.

The Difference between Dry Heaving and Vomiting

The difference between dry heaving and vomiting is that you don’t throw anything up. Dr. John Cunha on eMedicineHealth says that when you have nothing left in your stomach after vomiting, it is called dry heaves.1

Causes of Dry Heaving

Let’s look as some of the most common reasons that can make you dry heave.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy is often associated with morning sickness. However, being pregnant can also cause dry heaving. This can happen because your stomach is empty after frequent vomiting or because your hormones induce a vomiting reflex.

According to a study published by the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group, dry heaving is very common among pregnant women. In fact, many doctors now class dry heaving as a separate symptom to vomiting and nausea. According to Dr. Anne Matthews, author of the report, retching and vomiting can happen at any time of the day and is more common in the first trimester.2

The same report mentioned that many women now use non-pharmaceutical treatments to treat retching in pregnancy. Some of these are ginger, chamomile, peppermint, and acupressure.

Stress or anxiety

If you are under a lot of stress or suffer from anxiety, you may find that you frequently dry heave. Emotional stress can affect your central nervous system and gastrointestinal system and cause dry heaving and retching for no apparent reason.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases reported that stress can cause a condition called cyclic vomiting syndrome. This can cause a person to have episodes of vomiting or dry heaving which can last from a few hours to many days. This can be triggered by stressful events in life. Along with retching and gagging, you may also have abdominal pain, diarrhea, and headaches.3

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Learning how to relax and manage stress better can help get relief from dry heaving caused by stress. For example, ginger can help to soothe your digestive system and calm the stomach. In my article on the natural remedies for stress, you can read how meditation and yoga have helped many people find calmness in their daily life.

Food poisoning

Food poisoning can make you retch frequently until the infection gets out of your system. Food poisoning can be caused by food contaminated with bacterial, viral, or fungal pathogens. One of the most common symptoms of eating contaminated food is dry heaving and vomiting.

A common food contaminate is the Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) strain of bacteria. According to doctors from WebMD, staph food poisoning can cause nausea, vomiting, and retching, as well as stomach cramping and diarrhea.4

Although food poisoning doesn’t last forever, there are many ways to get rid of the symptoms quickly. If you suffer the dry heaves after eating contaminated food, it’s important to drink plenty of fluids to avoid complications from being dehydrated. For many people, eating a bland diet after food poisoning helps them to feel better quicker.

If you have diarrhea from food poisoning, then my article on getting rid of diarrhea naturally has lots of practical remedies.

Gastroparesis

Gastroparesis is another cause of dry heaving that also results in severe abdominal pain and sometimes constipation. Gastroparesis is a condition where food moves too slowly through the digestive tract due to damaged nerves. It is a common condition among diabetics, people who have had intestinal surgery, and Parkinson’s disease patients. This results in a buildup of partly digested food which can make you retch.

A study published in the journal Digestive Diseases and Sciences reported that one of the common symptoms of gastroparesis is severe symptoms of dry heaving.5

For natural ways on improving your digestive health, please read my article on how to treat and cure digestive problems naturally.

Low blood sugar levels

Low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia) can also make you involuntarily dry heave frequently. A drop in glucose levels in the blood may cause you to feel weak, have a rapid heart rate, and a tingling sensation in your fingers. Low blood sugar levels also affect the brain and can cause an intense feeling of hunger along with stomach noises and in extreme cases, dry heaving.

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The journal Canadian Family Physician reported on a case of a person suffering from diabetic ketoacidosis. This is a condition when the body can’t metabolize sugar for fuel and breaks down fat. This results in a buildup of acids, or ketones, in the liver. One of the symptoms the diabetic patient had was severe and repeated dry heaving.6

Depending on the severity of your condition, your doctor may recommend managing diabetes with diet. In most cases, diabetes requires careful supervision by a medical professional. You can also reduce your risk of diabetes naturally by being physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, and getting enough sleep.

Cancer treatment

Some cancer treatments make you retch with nothing coming out. The dry heaves can be caused by the cancer treatment or the disease itself.

Associate Professor at Sinclair School of Nursing, Dr. Verna Rhodes says that nausea, vomiting, and retching are some of the most distressing symptoms of cancer treatment. Many cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy report that they try to vomit without results.7

Coming off some medications

A side effect from coming off some medications is bouts of dry heaves. For example, the book Encyclopedia of Stress reported that dry retching is a symptom associated with withdrawal from benzodiazepines (prescription medicines most commonly used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders).8

You may find that some essential oils have a positive effect on symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Overuse of alcohol

Drinking too much alcohol can damage your liver and cause dry heaving and retching. The book Chronic Pancreatitis says that heavy drinkers frequently have bouts of morning nausea and retching.9 Depending on the amount consumed and how much alcohol is still in your system, you may have to retch with or without vomiting.

Tongue cleaning

If you regularly clean your tongue, you will know that sometimes going a little too far back in your mouth can cause a vomit reflex. The best way to avoid this gagging reaction is to carefully clean your tongue and make sure not to put your toothbrush right to the back of your mouth.

Best Home Remedies for Dry Heaving

There are many home remedies that can resolve the problem of dry heaving. Even if the dry heaves were caused by food poisoning or are stress-related, these natural treatments will soothe your intestinal muscles.

Ginger

Ginger is a delicious ingredient to cook with that also has medicinal properties to reduce retching and gagging. Ginger has an antispasmodic effect on the stomach that can reduce the “heaving” reflex. Taking ginger after food poisoning is also a great way to clear up the infection quicker due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

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Many scientific studies into the therapeutic properties of ginger have shown it to be just as good as many pharmaceutical drugs for nausea and vomiting. For example, the British Journal of Anaesthesia reported that ginger is as effective as the anti-vomiting drug metoclopramide.10 Other studies have shown that ginger can help reduce vomiting and retching during pregnancy.11

Although ginger is generally safe for most people, there are some people who shouldn’t take ginger.

How to use:

If you are suffering from the symptoms of dry heaving, use ginger tea as an effective way to reduce bouts of retching. This is what you should do:

  • Take about 1-2 inches of fresh ginger root and chop it finely or grate it.
  • Put in a cup of boiling water, cover and leave to infuse for several minutes.
  • Take small sips of the ginger tea remedy to relieve the feeling of wanting to heave.
  • Consume the ginger tea 3 times a day or whenever you have the dry heaves.

Alternatively, to calm your stomach and stop dry heaving, you can chew on a piece of fresh ginger root and allow the juices to help your digestion.

Peppermint

Peppermint is another natural home remedy that may help to stop dry heaving. Peppermint has a soothing effect on the gastric lining and it can help to reduce abdominal spasms.

The journal eCancer Medical Science reported that peppermint oil has anti-nausea activity and helps reduce episodes of vomiting in people who are undergoing chemotherapy. The researchers found that the frequency and intensity of vomiting were reduced within the first 24 hours.12

How to use:

One of the easiest ways to take mint to help get rid of dry heaves is to make a refreshing cup of mint tea. Here is how to do it:

  • Tear up some fresh mint leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried leaves) and put in a cup of boiling water.
  • Cover the cup and allow to infuse for 5-7 minutes.
  • Take small sips of the tea to help calm your stomach and get rid of the vomit reflex.

Or, you can just add a drop of food grade peppermint oil to any herbal tea to get the same effect.

Another way to use peppermint to help reduce dry heaving is to take enteric coated peppermint oil capsules. This has an anti-inflammatory effect on your intestines and won’t irritate your stomach. The peppermint oil capsules are also a great way to prevent and treat excess gas and bloating.

Drink clear fluids

If you have had frequent episodes of dry heaving, it’s important to drink plenty of fluids. If your dry heaving or vomiting was caused by food poisoning, then fluids can help flush the harmful germs out of your system.

Dr. John Cunha on eMedicineHealth says that drinking fluids help to correct electrolyte imbalance and this by itself can help to stop retching. Dr. Cunha recommends taking small sips of water after retching episodes and only drink clear liquids like soup broth, juice, or sports drinks.13

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Alternatively, you can drink rice water to help cure dry heaving. Rice water is great for your hair and skin and it can help to rehydrate you and reduce diarrhea duration.18

How to use:

To use rice water to keep yourself hydrated and help reduce retching and vomiting, please do the following:

  • In a pan, boil one part rice to 3 parts water for 20 minutes.
  • Keep the lid on.
  • Strain the liquid from the rice and keep in a glass container.
  • Take small sips of the liquid after retching to help reduce the stomach spasms.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a wonderful aromatic herb that has antispasmodic properties to help treat dry heaving. Cinnamon can be used as a medicine for a wide variety of conditions. It helps to lower blood sugar and cholesterol, reduces inflammation, and has antibacterial properties.

Various studies have also shown that cinnamon has a calming effect on the digestive system. For example, a study on women who have symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome found that cinnamon helped to reduce nausea and the frequency of vomiting.14 Other studies have shown that cinnamon helps to reduce retching in cancer patients who are having chemotherapy.15

How to use:

It is very easy to make a soothing cinnamon tea at home to help stop dry heaving. Here is what you should do:

  • Fill a cup with boiling water and mix in 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder. Or, place a cinnamon stick in the boiling water.
  • Cover the cup and leave to infuse for 5-7 minutes.
  • Strain the liquid.
  • Take small sips of the cinnamon herbal remedy to help calm retching and reduce the frequency of dry heaving.

Eat bland foods

After frequent bouts of the dry heaves, it’s important to eat bland foods to help your stomach recover. A bland diet consists of foods that are easy to digest and won’t irritate your sensitive stomach.

The National Institute of Health recommends eating 6 to 8 small bland meals a day to help recover from nausea and vomiting.16

In my article on the ultimate guide to a bland diet, you can read why toast, rice, noodles, broths, and potatoes are some of the best bland foods. You can also read about what foods you should avoid if you have been retching.

Dry Heaving – When to See a Doctor

Although most cases of dry heaving can be successfully treated at home with natural remedies, there are some cases when you should visit a doctor. Staff at the Mayo Clinic recommend seeking prompt medical attention if retching is accompanied with one or more of these symptoms:17

  • You also have severe abdominal pain or cramping.
  • Chest pain.
  • Vision problems.
  • Vomiting is accompanied by a severe headache.
  • You can’t keep any food or liquids down for more than 12 hours.
  • You start vomiting up liquid with blood in it.

Read these related articles:

Article Sources

  1. eMedicineHealth. Vomiting and nausea.
  2. OnlineLibrary. Interventions for nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy.
  3. NIDDK. Cyclic vomiting syndrome.
  4. WebMD. Staph food poisoning.
  5. Dig Dis Sci. 2013 Apr;58(4):1062-73.
  6. Can Fam Physician. 2012 Jan; 58(1): 55–57.
  7. CA Cancer J Clin. 2001;51:232-248.
  8. Encyclopedia of stress. Page 234.
  9. Chronic Pancreatitis. Page 27.
  10. Br J Anaesth. 2000 Mar;84(3):367-71.
  11. Rev Obstet Gynecol. 2012; 5(2): 78–84.
  12. Ecancermedicalscience. 2013; 7: 290.
  13. eMedicineHealth. Vomiting and nausea.
  14. Iran Red Crescent Med J. 2015 Apr; 17(4): e27032.
  15. US Oncol Hematol. 2011; 7(2): 91–97.
  16. MedlinePlus. When you have nausea and vomiting.
  17. MayoClinic. Nausea and vomiting.
  18. Pediatrics. 1995 Feb;95(2):198-202.
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