Someone that I love deeply has porphyria and really bad problems with nausea, to the point of not being able to keep food down.   I’ve been doing some research & making suggestions; but, I don’t have first hand experience with this, in that I can eat just about anything, without nausea problems.

Please comment if you have any suggestions.

What I came up with:

Help from Food (from ):

Consider the following tips to help manage nausea. These suggestions have worked for others.

  • Leave dry crackers by your bed. Before getting out of bed in the morning, eat a few and sit in bed for a few minutes.
  • Sip cool, not cold, carbonated drinks, like ginger ale, 7-Up, Sprite or cola. Sounds like you are on to something, with  the seltzer water.
  • Try some peppermint, chamomile or ginger tea — they may calm the stomach.
  • Avoid hot, spicy, strong-smelling and greasy foods that might upset your stomach.
  • Eat foods at room temperature or cooler; hot foods may add to nausea.
  • Try using capsules of ginger root powder, available at health food stores.
  • Fresh ginger, lightly cooked or juiced with fruits or vegetables like carrots or apples, is great to add to the diet, and may be as effective as dried ginger.
  • Try the BRAT Diet (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce and Toast).
  • Prevent dehydration during bouts of nausea by drinking small amounts of clear and cool beverages every fifteen minutes or so. Then gradually work your way back up to normal eating by taking small sips of water every several minutes. Increase the intake until you can tolerate a small meal.
  • If you vomit, replace fluids with broth, carbonated beverages, juice, Jell-O or Popsicles.

From a conglomeration of searches, with some comments.  One good site is British Porphyria Association ( ); folks in Europe tend to have a bit more knowledge about porphyria, as you are probably well aware.


  • Eat small & often
  • Avoid acid foods (like oranges, grapefruit)  ** ooops on the grapefruit juice last nite.
  • Avoid coffee & (typical) tea
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Avoid processed foods; eat as much natural foods as possible.

To soothe nausea:

  • Peppermint green tea with ginger extract drops  –  any kind of peppermint is supposed to help with nausea & digestion.   I drink peppermint tea & eat York Peppermint Patties.
  • Mint tea, or chewing on mint is supposed to help.
  • Ginger, ginger tea, ginger ale, gingersnap cookies, pickled ginger (comes with sushi) –  one note, I’ve put ginger in that “unknown, but concerned about category”, for me.   It could have been something else bothering me; but it has been eliminated just in case.
  • Hydration
  • Nuts (use glucose to balance protein)
  • Chicken broth
  • Bananas
  • Basil leaves in hot water…should just call it basil tea
  • Fresh pineapple…first thing in the morning & right before bed

Easy to eat foot:

  • Apples, bananas
  • Rice pudding
  • PB&J
  • Popsicles

Generally used for nausea; but, may be an issue to you:

  • Dry, somewhat overdone toast
  • Saltine crackers
  • Low fat Triscuits
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8 Responses to Nausea

  1. Matthew says:

    You say bananas are good, but they’re full of sulphites, which we porphyrrics should never ingest. I know I can’t eat them. Then again, I love almond milk!

    Keep up the good work. Good to know we’re not alone 🙂

    • Greg says:

      Interesting. I’ll have to evaluate bananas closely. But, I can get away with some tomato paste, with little irritation. Wish I didn’t have problems with almonds.

      Thanks for the kind words; I am very happy to hear that this blog is helpful. Keep up the fight; you are not alone. 🙂

  2. Apitherabee says:

    Hi, I love your blog, thanks for all the wonderful information! I am new to this diseases but have been learning quickly and absorbing everything that seems to be out there about it on the Internet. As Matthew commented about the bananas being a trigger food because it’s so high in sulfites, I have read numerous times that chamomile is also a trigger for haem production. Just a heads up as well from what I’ve been researching . Keep the awesome posts coming, thank you so much 🙂

    • Greg says:

      My pleasure, Apitherabee! I am happy that this blog is of help. Actually, I’ve learned a lot more about dealing with porphyria by putting what I’ve learned into cohesive sentences; sometimes, it forces me to research to the point of changing my opinion on what I thought I knew. And, some of the things that I’ve learned from the wonderful & helpful comments have been life changing! A case in point is the problem with red grapes, that Chris pointed out…that was really a tipping point (for the good) for me.

      With all that said, you really have to determine what works / doesn’t work for you. For instance, I eat bananas with no problem and donnatal is a life saver, even though bananas have sulfites & donnatal has phenobarbital. And, there are many drugs on the safe list that will crash my system.

      Chamomile…hmmm, you know, last time I had it was back in the days when I was having daily donnatal/percocet level attacks. It may well have been a contributing factor. I tried chamomile to help me sleep; but, it would only carry me through to around 3:00 AM & then I’d be groggy the next day…so, I fired it.

      Keep up the good fight!

  3. Steven says:

    Greg, I’m glad I found your site. I just found out last week that I have some form of porphyria from a dermatologist. I went to see him concerning a large sore on my back that wouldn’t heal and showed him red spots on my upper arms that looked like bug bites. Without any lab tests, he mentioned porphyria, stay out of the sun, shouldn’t drink alcohol or smoke, and that I may have to be bled occasionally to lower my heme level. I didn’t need to hear that. I’m single and don’t have a car so I already feel like I’m in condo prison. He called me this week and confirmed the porphyria but didn’t have all the lab results to know what kind, but I haven’t experienced the extreme effects people have written about. I have epilepsy and found meds. on the web that may contribute to porphyria, but they don’t list the two I currently take. I’ve used some of them that are listed in the past. I e-mailed my Dr. about it and he replied no. But after 50 yrs. of taking a merry go round of these things, I’m sure they’ve done damage to the liver. As far as marijuana under In The News section of your site, many of the web sites I found were against it while other sites were for it, especially for the severe types of porphyria. I’ll ask my Dr. when I see him. I really appreciate your Diet section, but I don’t think I’ll give up my morning coffee. Thanks for your site and info. One question, I use to do a lot of juicing. Are there any you know of that might be of benefit.

    • Greg says:

      Steven, it sounds like you have a cutaneous type of porphyria. I’ve got an acute type. There is overlap in symptoms and treatments; but, there are some significant differences. As you noted, you have to stay out of the sun; but, I don’t react to the sun until I get a bit of a burn – then, I blister, run a fever, etc. Also, I don’t have to have blood drawn to reduce iron levels, like you do. However, I think that avoidance of triggers (food, environmental) holds true for both types.

      Meds are a huge problem, in that known safe drugs can cause some folks problems, and known unsafe drugs can be fine for some sufferers. For instance, barbituates are very bad for porphyria sufferers; however, I take Donnatal (belladonna + phenobarbital) all the time, when I have attacks.

      Coffee – insert huge sigh. I love coffee; but, have had to cut back because it bombs my system. I will have one or two cups during the week, at business meetings. And, on the weekend, I will start my mornings by having a cup of coffee with my wife on the back deck. Glucose helps a lot at those times.

      Juicing? Not conversant there. If you put a lot of fruit in your juices, you run the risk of getting too much fructose. You have to keep your fructose glucose ration leaning heavily towards glucose. Read the Sugar page, for more info.

      I hope this helps.

  4. Clara Schwartz says:

    I may sound like I am obsessed with the whole acid/alkaline food thing, but for me it is a huge problem. I have to say no coffee, tea, cocoa (white chocolate is fine), or cola! They are all acidic. Ginger is great (it is alkaline!), but it is often paired with foods that aren’t, such as lemon, cinnamon, and (for me at least) garlic. Also, eating chunks of ginger can make your sinuses run, but not everyone has an issue with that. If fruit means cranberries and watermelon, it’s great, but if fruit means anything else, it’s not, because other fruits contain too much acid. Selzer water sounds ok, but make sure there is no lemon or citric acid in it!

    • Greg says:

      When dealing with porphyria, we all have to be obsessed. I understand, entirely. Never let up!

      White chocolate? I am impressed; that is a huge trigger for me. I think it is the high fat content. I can eat dark chocolate, though.

      Ginger? Now, that is a strong irritant to me. A little bit is ok; but, that is a slippery slope…how much is too much? It really depends on how I am feeling, what else I’ve eaten, what color my shirt is, etc.

      Cranberries? I am jealous. They are a strong trigger for me. Darn. I like cranberries.

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