Background: Nausea and vomiting decrease one’s quality of life significantly, and, despite various treatments, they are still uncontrollable, especially in acute illness. Perhaps it would be useful to search for new concepts and therapies for dealing with these issues at other medical schools. The aim of this research was to elucidate the causes of nausea and vomiting in Iranian Traditional Medicine (ITM) based on Avicenna’s viewpoint in The Book of “Canon of medicine”.

Methods: We reviewed the Canon of Medicine and other reference textbooks of ITM to get the experts’ viewpoints, such as Kamel-al-Sanaeh, Al-Havi, and Zakhireh-kharazmshahi, and we searched PubMed, Scopus, Embase, ISI and Science Iranian Database (SID) in November and December 2014 using keywords.

Results: Basic terms associated with nausea and vomiting in ITM are Gha’y (vomiting), Tahavo’a (retching), Gathayan (nausea), and Taghallob-al-nafs (continuous nausea). Different factors can induce these problems with direct or indirect change in the quantity/quality of humors in the body’s systems or the stomach. Treatments are based on the correction of humors and modifications of lifestyle. ITM has recommended medicinal herbs for severe nausea and vomiting. For example, they may be effective in treating chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV).

Conclusion: ITM suggests that almost the nausea and vomiting associated with almost all major diseases originate from abnormalities in either the quantity/quality of humors. The gold standard for managing nausea and vomiting is lifestyle modifications with attention to responsible humors. Some therapeutic protocols in ITM may be applicable today. Perhaps redefining the diseases and updating the expression of these concepts and approaches can lead to the development of complementary and alternative treatments for nausea and vomiting.


Key words: traditional medicine, Avicenna, humor, temperament,  nausea, vomiting
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