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A Patient's Blog: Sour Stomach and Nausea That Lingers


I would like to continue our discussion about ways to deal with treatment-related side effects by focusing on nausea and what I call a "sour stomach."

Nausea is a common side effect among multiple myeloma patients who are undergoing chemotherapy. And almost all stem cell transplant recipients experience nausea following high -dose chemo and the infusion of stem cells.

Severe nausea should be treated by a physician. Powerful drugs like Zofran and Compazine are often used to help. So is my anti-nausea drug of choice, Ativan.

But once a patient's severe nausea is under control, he or she is often left with a less intense form of nausea that can linger for days.  Not severe enough to require prescription meds, chronic nausea can be quite unsettling. 

The same can be said for a sour stomach. In between waves of nausea and an assault by any number of medications, it's no surprise that a patient's stomach can feel out-of-whack and need attention!

Bear in mind that what follows are suggestions based on my own experience as well as suggestions from fellow myeloma patients. Remember to let your oncologist know before trying any herb or supplement. It's best to err on the side of caution before making any significant changes to your diet or supplement regimen.

So what do we do to help get our chronic nausea and/or sour stomach symptoms under control?

  •  Let's start with ginger. I can remember my mother always poured me ginger ale following childhood bouts with the flu. And you know what they say:  mother knows best! Ginger is inexpensive and safe.  It can be purchased whole, as a powder, in capsules or processed foods like Ginger Snaps or ginger candy. One of our readers last week recommended drinking hot ginger tea. Great suggestion, Diane!

  •  Ginger is also a powerful anti-inflammatory.  I take two grams of ginger (four 500 mg capsules) daily to help with both.

  • Something as simple as sipping hot lemon water might also be worth a try.

  •  Sucking on peppermints can also help.  I keep a few mints in my pocket just in case my stomach acts-up.

  • If peppermint isn't doing the trick, you might want to try sucking on a Queasy-Pop.  A regular reader of my blog sent me a package and I love them!  Advertised as "the natural way to ease a queasy stomach," these inexpensive and tasty suckers work for me.  You can find a local supplier or order them online at www.queasypop.com.

  •  I previously mentioned that calcium supplements can help settle a sour stomach.  Calcium-based antacids do the trick here.  Look for the active ingredient "calcium carbonate" on the back of the package.

  • Several patients I know swear that eating a banana helps them.  Worth a try!

  • Simply keeping something in your stomach and "grazing" throughout the day can help. Well-cooked rice might be a good place to start.

  • If you can keep it down, yogurt works for some, although I find it to be too high in acid for me, and yogurt can be difficult to digest.

  •  Native Remedies.com describes the herb, Mentha piperita as a "calmative and analgesic herb which aids digestion, prevents nausea and vomiting and promotes the flow of bile."

  • And I wouldn't be surprised if someone hasn't suggested marijuana once they hear you are on chemotherapy. I never did try pot to help with my chronic post-transplant nausea. But lots of patients in states where medical marijuana is legal swear by it.

  • Switching gears, what about acupressure? Some studies suggest wrist acupressure can help manage nausea caused by chemotherapy. One pressure point thought to help nausea is on the inside of your arm, a few inches above the wrist. 

Any time you are dealing with chronic nausea or pain, meditation and guided imagery might also be worth a try. But if you do, might I suggest enlisting the help of a professional at the start? The same advice applies to using different herbs and things like acupressure, too. Alternative therapies can be incredibly effective, if you know how and when to use them.

Can you think of any stomach settling tips I might have missed? Please don't hesitate to share them. 

Next time I will pass along a number of helpful suggestions for those of you that are battling another common myeloma therapy side effect: constipation.

Feel good and keep smiling! 



Crystallized ginger is a a great remedy for nausea. I used it instead of Zofran for early treatment of Tb - yes, one of the side effects of my myeloma, 3 years ago (luckily I delayed ACT due to a clinical study. My doctor said I would have died if I had gone to transplant and had the Tb activate at that time.)
I am one of the 1%... a vegan, and think that has helped my survival 4 yrs 8 mos with HR myeloma. The healthful qualities of a plant-based diet are so convincing.
I also recommend aloe for skin rash- yes, I am on Velcade + dex maintenance. Use a small piece of split leaf, wet side down with a band-aid on the injection site. Leave it alone for a couple days - you won't believe it! The aloe goo works nicely on my dex facial rash: apply as needed.

Any suggestions to help neuropathy?

My wife, Rosemary, was always nauseous while she was in the hospital undergoing her stem cell transplant. It wasn't until we got home and stopped taking the antifungal that it went away. Otherwise nothing helped. I forgot which antifungal it was though. I just wish the doctors would let you know what the possible side effects of all those drugs could be. Usually we research everything but sometimes you are just too weak to do it. Rosemary is doing great now - day 0 was dec 6, 2012.

Whenever I get a "bad" stomach I go on the "BRAT" diet.I.e.bananas, rice, apple sauce and tea. Works for me all my life. Now that I haveMM it also works but I watch what I eat. There are things I can't eat anymore I.e. peppers, some beans, etc.
Bob Adamski.

Also helpful: Curcumin (tabs or caps)

As well as: Essaic Tea, Aloe Vera Juice (organic), Kombucha (be sure and refrigerate all of these)

Chlorophyll helps too (tabs or caps)

Also I have found that drinking "Ginger Beer" (not alcholic as one may think) is very helpful. Can be purchased in healthfood sections, Trader Joe's etc. It is a stronger version of gingerale but refreshing and helpful.

Hi Pat Great job on this article. so many patients including myself, can really benefit from your great suggestions. I'm going to make copies and pass them out to the Myeloma Support Group.

Pat Harwood
Minneapolis/St. Paul MM Support Group

Hi Pat: Thanks for the informative info on sour stomach.

My wife is being treated at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN and in Rapid City, SD with cytoxan and dexamethasone by IV and Velcade subcutaneously. She is in her 5th week of chemo for MM & amyloid.

Her primary physician at the Mayo Clinic prescribed Zofran for her nausea, but also suggested that for a sour stomach and bile, she chew pieces off from a Tums tablet which is 750 mg of "calcium carbonate".

Hi Pat, excellent info on different things to help with nausea and other stomach ailements. The reason I'm writing,is because I was waiting for your dexamethazone article and was away and missed it and think I deleted it. I take 20 mg twice a week,thurs,fri every week along with my carfilzomib IV, and Revlimid after dinner on a clinical trial. When I'm off my treatment after the three weeks on, I take 40 mg's on thursday on my week off. I stop the Revlimid,and carfilzomib but keep the dex going. Any chance you can send me the info on Dex? Would really appreciate. Someone must have deleted that on me. Thanks in advanc... Joanne Erickson (John Theurer Cancer Canter Hackensack New Jersey) Dr. Siegeo/ Dr Visole....

It's been 2 1/2 years since my stem cell transplant. I have more side effects than normal but rarely suffer from Naseau. A glass of milk or milk and cheerios will settle the stomack. I lived on this after my stem cell transplant. Margaret

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