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Chemotherapy-induced Nausea, Vomiting- Therapies

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Serotonin and neurokinin antagonists, such as ondansetron and aprepitant, are highly effective in treating chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting…

Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting can make the patient feel like they want to die. I apologize if I sound overly dramatic but if you’ve experienced the feeling of serious chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, you understand.

The challenge is to figure out what, if any, therapies can eliminate this awful side effect of chemotherapy and radiation. I say this because conventional antiemetic therapies have a long list of side effects and complications listed below.

Is there such a thing as an evidence-based but non-conventional therapy to make your nausea and vomiting go away? 

According to the research linked and excerpted below, both essential oils and aromatherapy reduce or eliminate chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.

If  you are a newly diagnosed cancer patient who is about to undergo chemotherapy and/or radiation, do not expect your oncologist to offer non-conventional therapies such as essential oils or aromatherapy discussed below. In all likelihood, you will have to source and provide these therapies yourself.

I’ve researched and posted numerous articles about nausea and other side effects-

Are you struggling with chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting? Scroll down the page, post a question or a comment and I will reply to you ASAP.

To Learn More about short, long-term and late stage side effects- click now

Hang in there,

David Emerson

  • Cancer Survivor
  • Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

Effectiveness of Inhaled Aromatherapy on Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea and Vomiting: A Systematic Review

Background: Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) are among the most common and feared side effects of cancer treatments. Their presence has a negative impact on the quality of life and morbidity associated with the disease. Despite increasingly effective antiemetic treatments, 40% of cancer patients experience CINV during the acute or delayed phase of their treatment. This distressing experience lived through by a large number of people makes it a priority in the improvement of cancer patients and a daily concern for nurses in cancer care units…

Results: Eleven studies were included, nine in adults and two in children. Seven out of nine studies showed statistically significant results in adults with either direct or dry inhalation. Four out of seven alleviated both nausea and vomiting thanks to peppermint, ginger essential oil; three decreased nausea only with chamomilla, ginger or cardamom essential oil. Atmospheric diffusion and the use of inhaled aromatherapy in children did not show any benefit.

Conclusions: Results appear promising for the use of direct inhaled aromatherapy in the management of CINV…”

Essential Oils May Provide Relief from Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea and Vomiting

“Ginger and peppermint pure essential oils reduced the severity of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting in newly admitted patients receiving autologous blood and marrow transplants (BMTs) and may serve as a beneficial complimentary treatment..

Essential oils are volatile liquid substances extracted from aromatic plant material available for inhalation or topical treatment in the United States…2

Overall, 33% of patients in the study experienced a grade 2 or higher CTCAE nausea event. Grade 2 vomiting occurred in 8% of patients overall, including 2, 1, and 2 patients in the peppermint, ginger, and control arms experiencing the event, respectively.1

Nurses administered the treatment by applying the oils to a gauze and pinning it to the patients clothing 20 cm from the nostrils every 4 hours. In addition to measuring nausea and vomiting subjectively as well as objectively, at the end of the study patients completed a patient feedback tool…1

Demont noted that, along with prior use of essential oils, a potential confounder of the study includes the chemotherapy regimen given which may impact the severity of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting…1

The use of ginger essential oil as an aromatherapy was also supported by data from a study published in Oncology Nursing Forum. Findings from the study showed that ginger essential oil produced statistically significant results, decreasing levels of fatigue (P = .048) in patients with gastrointestinal, neuroendocrine, or skin cancer who were receiving intravenous therapy.3

As patients experience acute and delayed chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting even when receiving antiemetics with chemotherapy when preparing for surgery, essential oils may serve as an additional beneficial complimentary therapy option and patients can control the administration of the oil themselves. With a larger more diverse sample, future studies may evaluate the route of delivery, the use of blended essential oils, intermittent use, how the treatment affects safety, as well as use with antiemetic medications…1″

Antiemetic drugs: what to prescribe and when

“Nausea and vomiting are common symptoms with many possible causes, including the adverse effects of drugs. If a drug is indicated, the cause guides the choice of antiemetic drug

The main antiemetic classes include antagonists of the serotonin, dopamine, histamine, muscarinic and neurokinin systems, corticosteroids and benzodiazepines. Some antiemetics appear more effective for specific indications

Serotonin and neurokinin antagonists, such as ondansetron and aprepitant, are highly effective in treating chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting…

Types and side effects of antiemetic drugs

Side effects

Each antiemetic drug can cause specific side effects. It is crucial to read each drug’s pamphlet carefully or speak with a pharmacist about the risks.

When deciding upon a treatment to prescribe, it is important for a doctor to understand which side effects the person is more prone to experience.

The following are common side effects of different types of antiemetics:

  • antihistamines: sleepiness, dry mouth, and dry nasal passages
  • bismuth-subsalicylate: blackish stools and changes in tongue color
  • cannabinoids: an altered state of perception and dizziness
  • corticosteroids: indigestion, increased appetite or thirst, and acne
  • dopamine receptor blockers: fatigue, constipation, ringing in the ears, dry mouth, restlessness, and muscle spasms
  • NK1 receptor blockers: dry mouth, reduced urine volume, and heartburn
  • serotonin receptor blockers: fatigue, dry mouth, and constipation

Antiemetics can help people live without nausea and vomiting, but they can also cause side effects and interactions, some of which can be severe.

Alert a doctor if any of the following occur:

  • muscle weakness, spasms, or convulsions
  • changes in heartbeat, such as palpitations or a rapid heartbeat
  • hearing loss
  • worsening of nausea or vomiting
  • slurred speech
  • psychological problems, such as hallucinations or confusion
  • drowsiness that interferes with daily life

It is important to discuss the options with a doctor before trying any antiemetic — especially for people who take other medications. For instance, anyone who takes a sleep aid or muscle relaxant should consult a doctor before taking an antihistamine for nausea and vomiting…”


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