How a Spider Cured My Nausea
And can cure yours too

Hello. Allow me to introduce myself.  I’m the old lady I never thought I’d become. I have a jar of slightly unpleasant tasting candy on my counter at all times.  Not as unpleasant as “Humbugs”, but unpleasant none-the-less.

And here’s the reason why:

4 years, 7 months, 6 days ago my boyfriend forced me to take a vacation.  On a houseboat.  Now as far as I’m concerned nothing that involves a house is a vacation.  Because if there’s a house there’s also cooking, cleaning and tidying to be done.  Only a man would think vacationing in a house is an actual vacation.

Only a man would think vacationing in a house that bobs up and down while violently spinning in circles during the night is an especially  fun vacation.

I’m not even going to talk about the fact that the sleeping quarters doubled as the kitchen table, the toilet was actually IN the shower stall or the fact that the houseboat was INFESTED with spiders.  O.K.  Scratch that … I am going to talk about he spiders for a second.

We had shoved off and were on the water for all of about 5 minutes before I noticed clearish, white spiders.  Everywhere.  Hanging, dangling from the ceiling.  So invisible, you couldn’t see them until they were about 1/2 inch from your eyeball.  Or mouth.  Did I mention I’m phobic?  That spiders (along with centipedes) make my airways constrict?  Did I mention that?

So 5 minutes into it, my “vacation” involved cooking dinner on a whirling, bobbing boat, with random, drop down stomach turning spiders.  And there was literally no escape.

The first night I didn’t sleep at all because of the legitimate fear that as I slept, spiders were dropping down from the ceiling and crawling all over me.  Plus there was that relentless whirling around in circles I mentioned earlier.  12 hours down, 3 more days to go.  Oh my God.

That  morning at our first port of call we went on a search for a) bug spray and b) Gravol.  I got the Spider Blaster immediately.  It was in every little shop we went into.  Apparently ours wasn’t the only houseboat prone to spiders.  The Gravol proved to be a little more challenging.  No one had it.

Finally a little drugstore had a version of Gravol I’d never tried before.  There on the shelf was all natural “Ginger Gravol”.  Obviously it was on the shelf because no one else wanted to buy it either.  I almost cried.  I needed drugs.  Big, fat, just this side of legal drugs to deal with what seemed to be a band of drunk leprechauns putting on a circus show in my stomach.  With no other choice, I bought the stupid hippy dippy Ginger Gravol.  Against my better judgement.

It worked.  It worked brilliantly.  The Ginger Gravol worked every bit as well as regular Gravol as a matter of fact, without any of the dopey feeling Gravol can give you.  Although if any vacation begged for a little passing out, this was the one.  Luckily the full can of Spider Blaster I sprayed put a little slur in my step.

Over the past few years I’ve continued to use Ginger Gravol, plus I’ve done a bit of additional research.    You see, I’m prone to nausea because of my migraine headaches.  Plus I think I might have emetophobia,  but that’s another story.  Suffice it to say, I’ve convinced myself I can catch the stomach flu by talking on the phone to someone who might have the stomach flu.

So what does all of this have to do with the jar of candy on my counter?  It’s a jar of crystallized ginger.

Feeling nauseous?  Eat some Ginger.

Crystalized Ginger Slices


Crystalized Ginger Cubes


Through my nausea research, I found the reason everyone tells you to drink Gingerale when you’re sick is because of the Ginger.  Ginger is as powerful an anti-nauseant as any drug you can buy in the pharmacy.  Honestly.  The studies were all “Hey! This is science! We’re not just making this up!

Gravol also sells chewable ginger candies by the way, but buying crystallized ginger is cheaper.  It’s not cheap, but it’s cheaper than Gravol.  To fill my 500 ml mason jar with crystallized ginger slices, it cost me $10.

Feeling gross?  Just eat a piece of crystallized ginger.  Just one piece.  Even half a piece.  Certainly not a handful.  I must warn you.  It’s got a bit of a bite to it.  I actually quite like it now.  It’s certainly more palatable than the uncooked slice of ginger a lot of websites recommended I try.  Um.  Ick.  Also, crystallized ginger is considerably more portable than Ginger Tea. Vitamin B6 is also recommended for nausea, but you have to take it on a regular basis (as pregnant women do).

So there you have it.  How a trip on a houseboat and an encounter with a bunch of paratrooping spiders cured my nausea.

The end.

Wait.  It’s not the end.  In the near future I hope to give you directions on how to make your own crystallized ginger.  The Internet has several recipes for it.  But as we know, the Internet lies.  So I’m gonna give a few recipes a shot.  If it works … I’ll let you know.

The end.


  1. Megan says:

    Anddd now you should teach us how to grow and make our own crystallized ginger 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Crap! I meant to say I was going to do that in the next few weeks!!! Crap … gonna go add it to the post now! Wow. I’ve either become incredibly predictable or you’re psychicish. ~ karen

  2. Ana says:

    I’m getting the willies just imagining the sea-bound spider house. Like Jaws, except the shark is in the boat with you.

  3. Teri says:

    Hmmmmm… I’ll have to get some for my husband to try. Thanks for the tip!

  4. Bill Grigg says:

    I eat crystallized ginger because I LIKE ginger. I like ginger beer, too. The kind that doesn’t taste ANYTHING like that sweet soda pop that mentions ginger in it’s name. I’m talking the kind that is so horrid tasting that it can cure people of their phobia about spiders, though sadly not emetophobia. I especially like the pickled ginger you get with sushi. And now you tell me that it’s good for me! Something I like is finally good for me! Now if you can just convince me that single malt scotch is also good for me, I will be ecstatic!

    • Karen says:

      Bill – Single malt scotch is excellent for your health. If you fill up on scotch it’s pretty hard to fit in a Big Mac and fries. Oh! And I also LOVE the pickled ginger you get with sushi. It’s my favourite part of sushi! ~ karen

    • Jenn says:

      Oh, ginger beer. Yum.

  5. Sara says:

    I’ve been a big fan of ginger since I had some medical issues a few years ago that made me really, REALLY, naseous all the time. The prescription stuff made me feel funky, and never totally fixed the nasea, but sipping on ginger tea worked wonders. Now, I’m the woman who HOARDS all sorts of ginger teas in my cupboards (last count: 10 boxees of 6 different types).

    Hey, if disaster strikes….I will have a calm stomach!

  6. B-Naz says:

    Karen, is this something I have to buy at the health food store or will the grocery store carry it?

    • Karen says:

      B-Naz – Larger grocery stores will carry it in the bulk section. The Bulk Barn (or other bulk food stores) also carry it. It isn’t *everywhere* but it also isn’t too difficult to find. ~ karen

    • Arianne says:

      I’ve found crystalized ginger in the spice section with all the other spices like oregano and rosemary. I found it at our local Kroger.

  7. Leah says:


    I super love candied ginger. Me and my boyfriend are obsessed with it. We eat it all the time, add it to baking or meals etc. For some time, we’ve wished to know how to make it! If you found a great way, that would be amazing. Please put your brain to work at finding a way. Love your stuff!

  8. Liz says:

    Ahhh, you made me laugh despite my tired and zombiefied state. I too hate spiders, i’d have been off that boat and straight in the car home. Sod the boyfriend!

    • Karen says:

      Liz – That was the problem! By the time I noticed the spiders we were out on the water God knows where and it was dark out! It was a very, very sad vacation. ~ karen

  9. magali says:

    that sounds like the WORST “vacation” ever.

    I once read that chewing on ginger was good for a hangover. I now understand why, although crystallized ginger sounds more pleasant.

    • Devin says:

      LOL! I was going to ask if it works for hangovers!

      Mint is suppose to help with nausea as well. I often drink mint tea when I have a stomachache and usually feel better afterward.

      I’m going to try the ginger next time!

  10. Melody Madden says:

    Wow, great advice Karen. I suffer horribly from nausea on planes as well as boats and buses. Worse feeling in the world. Will stay tuned for the upcoming recipe.

  11. Cyd colvig says:

    I spent my childhood downing gravol as I always got sick on planes, boats, trains etc., though a part of me thinks this was due to the fact that everyone smoked. I got on to the Ginger for nausea because of my grandmother, who was a wealth of “holistic” info.
    I never met a Ginger I didn’t like – even our guinea pig was named Ginger (after Ginger Baker).I try to sneak it into absoloutely everything. Dark chocolate covered Ginger is the best thing ever (found in Canadian chocolate shops, but I haven’t seen it in the States). I am so ready for you to dredge up the recipe and will be in line to be one of the first testers.

    • Shauna Rudy says:

      Cyd, in the States, try See’s Candies. They make the best dark chocolate covered ginger EVER; I could eat pounds of it. The ginger part is kind of moist and juicy rather than dry and crystallized. Wish I could figure out how to make ginger like that.

      • Karen says:

        Shauna – I’m workin’ on it! The crystallized ginger I get from my bulk store is very moist! I’m looking to duplicate it. Could take a while though! ~ karen

        • Jenn says:

          Candied citrus peel uses glycerin. This keeps it from becoming rock crystal candy. I suspect the same is true for ginger.

          I too will be looking for your recipe, when it arrives. Thanks in advance.

          (footnote, you can grow ginger as a houseplant by planting the root you buy at the grocery, but it won’t thrive much. My root shrunk almost entirely away.)

  12. susan w says:

    I have successfully made crystallized ginger several times. Sometimes I have cut the ginger into teeny dice and kept the little things in an elderly Altoids tin in my purse. Handy to have – supposedly for stomach surprises but mostly for candy nibbling. I like the larger sugar grains on the purchased ginger though. I usually buy mine at store where it is sold in bulk or in Asian markets.

  13. amy walters, aDESIGNdock says:

    I actually don’t mind the taste of crystallized ginger. It sometimes comes in the trail mix I like to buy. But I can only handle so much ;D And I never thought of using it as a gravol substitute. Great tip!

  14. blake says:

    1. I grew up spending my summers on a houseboat! It’s an acquired taste! But I dig it…

    2. I lived on ginger lollipops when I was pregnant! LOVE! I miss them…don’t miss feeling like I was on a houseboat my entire second pregnancy…

  15. This is good to know. Very good. Looking forward to the homemade crystallized ginger post. Because I cannot handle the raw stuff. I think if I were nauseated, I could recover just by thinking, “Oh, I *don’t* have to eat that raw ginger! Whew! All better!”

  16. Every time I see ginger at the grocery store, I’m like, what the hell is that?!?!? They say it’s a root, but I think it is actually some sort of elephant seal tumor.

  17. Kristin says:

    Gah! Karen, I too suffer from emetophobia, and have been stuck in a house for the past week with people (my children & hubs) with the stomach flu! When the first itty bitty puked, within minutes, I had hives forcripessake! Get me outta here!

    On my last road trip I found ginger gum, made by one of the companies that markets anti-nausea meds. It is pricey, but it works great without side effects and it’s super portable.

    • Karen says:

      Kristin – I would have left them all. You think I am joking. I am not. I would have LEFT THEM ALL. Ack. ~ karen

  18. Carol says:

    We have so much in common. I suffer from migraines as well as nausea. Lots of nausea. I probably go thru a package of gravol a month, however, i’ve never tried the ginger. So funny you mentioned this today, I had a jar of crystallized ginger in my hand yesterday at Homesense!! I picked it up because the jar and the colour of the ginger was so attractive, I put it back thinking, ick, ginger candy, looks good but probably will taste horrible….

  19. Liz S. says:

    I also lived on ginger lollipops, ginger tea, and gingerale while pregnant. I wish I had known about crystallized ginger when I was pregnant. It would have been much easier to carry around and I wouldn’t have constantly looked like a little kid with my lollipop. I have had some difficulties finding crystallized ginger in the states. I’ll try checking out Whole Foods this weekend.

  20. Connor says:

    My mom actually started a little tradition pursuant to this. She hates flying and gets incredibly nauseous when she does. Unfortunately for her, she and I ended up flying a lot throughout my childhood. To calm things down on the flights she would always order a ginger ale and I would copy her and get one too! I still fly quite often and order ginger ale every time, out of tradition! It’s pretty much the only time I have it. 🙂

  21. Christina says:

    How interesting. I really really hate nausea. I don’t get migraines but I feel like I am prone to nausea anyway. A while back I was on a different brand of birth control pills that gave me frequent nausea and in desperation I bought this bottle of red goo that claimed to banish nausea. It always freaked me out that I had no idea what was in it. Crystalized ginger sounds much more natural.

  22. Joni N. says:

    How stupid is this: Crystallized ginger makes me nauseous!? I’m a freak of nature.

    • Alisha says:

      Ditto – That and I’m hypersensitive to the smell of mint and it gives me migraines … is that a vicious circle or what?

  23. I would eat doo-doo if it had ginger in it or on it, I love it so much and chocolate covered ginger is the absolute ultimate in good tasting anything. I used to make a cornflake marshmallow square as a snack and along with the nuts and seeds, I’d put chopped up candied ginger in it. I had to stop making it because I’d just sit and eat the whole thing. I keep a ginger root either fresh or in the freezer and peel about an inch, slice it and cover it with boiling water, steep, and you’ve got better ginger tea than you’ll ever buy. Stir frys take on a whole new taste when you slice a little ginger into them. Can you tell I like ginger?

    • Stefanie says:

      Susan, that snack sounds AMAZING! Crunchy, squishy, sweet AND tart? Wowza. Plus, I’m a gingerophile like you, I love the stuff in any form.

      I know I’m just going to get totally addicted and then have to go cold turkey and become very sad in the process, but I MUST know what a cornflake marshmallow snack is like. Would you share your recipe?

  24. mbb. says:

    looking forward to the tested recipe! if only you could add a mild sleeping agent to lull us into a gravol-stupor!

  25. mimi says:

    This is aromatherapy, we use ginger oil for nausea.

  26. Rebecca says:

    Okay, once you’ve shared your crystallized ginger recipe (which I am eagerly awaiting, since the ones I’ve tried have been okay, but they seem to get slimy and moist a few days after making them) you will HAVE to make these lemon and ginger cookies
    They are probably my favourite cookie, they’re easy to make, and everyone loves them. Now that they cure nausea! Awesome! Not that nausea is a big problem for me since I appear to have an iron stomach unless I’ve been drinking, or cleaning up kid-puke.

  27. Stefanie says:

    For those having trouble finding crystallized ginger in their groceries, try looking for it with the spices. Sometimes there is a bottle of it in with the other alphabetized spices and sometimes it’s in a little box on a lower shelf, but I’ve been able to find it in just about every American market.

    Find a food coop and you’ll get it cheaper out of the bulk bin. And it’s always available at any Asian market, usually with candies instead of with spices.

  28. Liz S. says:

    I was looking on Amazon for something else and decied to search for some ginger. And chocolate covered ginger popped up!
    Search for Chocolove XOXOX Ginger Crystallized in Dark Chocolate, 3.2 oz

  29. Shauna says:

    We had some crystallized ginger in our cupboard wen I was pregnant. As ou son got older he insisted on trying it. We thought he would spit it immediatelybut he loved it. He would put it in his mouth and drool all over the place because of the spicy bite that it has, then immediately want another one. We had to limit it because of the sugar but thought it was hilarious.

  30. Anj says:

    But can a non-drinker named Karen drink like a fish on a cruise on candied ginger or does she need Bonine the wonder drug for that?

    • Karen says:

      Gasp! That’s true. I did drink once didn’t I?? I always forget that. For those who don’t know … I don’t drink. I’m not morally opposed to it, I’m just not good at it. But I once went on a cruise that required I take the anti-nauseant Bonamine. Which Anj and I have always called Bonine for some reason. I only this moment, found out it’s actually called Bonamine. Anyhow … I drank many, many pina coladas. They were super-delicious! Normally after half a drink I’m all woozy and stupid. The Bonamine seemed to stop all ill effects of drinking. Another way to go would have been to order virgin pina coladas. On dry land. ~ karen

  31. Trysha says:

    During my third pregnancy, Ginger Altoids totally helped curb my morning sickness.
    Plus Ginger ale rocks. I love me some Canada Dry.

  32. Natalie F says:

    Um, Starbucks ginger molasses cookies work too. I love them anyway, but discovered how happy they made me 3 months ago when I had morning sickness. Honestly, as soon as I had a bite, I felt better. They are heaven. Ask for yours warmed up.

  33. Hana says:

    This ginger business has been given to me as an anti-hangover recipe – with fresh ginger, though, but you’re not supposed to eat it, just put a slice under your tongue and hope for the best… and it works – but it never occurred to me it could work for nausea in general. I’m brilliant that way, so thank you Karen 🙂

  34. Pam says:

    Formication ( ) was keeping you up. And spiders. I LOVE GINGER. Please tell me what to do with it!

    Thank you Karen!

  35. I love crystallized ginger! I keep a jar of it just for snacking! I’ll have to try some next time I’m nauseous. Now, knowing how to make some would be great!

  36. Stephanie says:

    Love the stream of consciousness! Crystallized ginger is so yummy. I share mine with the dog, who also loves it!

  37. Pam'a says:

    Am I the only one here who’s never heard of Gravol?

  38. kasia says:

    I’ve never heard of Gravol either…

  39. Kathryn says:

    Thank you for finally giving me a name to call my worst phobia. I know it’s absurd, but I thought I was the only one who believed (believes?) that you can contract stomach illnesses that way!

    • Karen says:

      Kathryn – You’re welcome. I didn’t know it had a name until this year. One of the most common, least talked about phobias in the world. ~ karen!

  40. Emily Rae says:

    Karen, I’ve read that if you make your own candied ginger, it’s best to use young ginger (which has a very thin skin — paper thin, and pinkish). I’ve never seen young ginger at a regular grocery store, but I have at Chinese grocery stores.

    • Karen says:

      Emily! Thanks for the info! Funny you should mention that. I was just thinking this very moment I’d better get going on the crystallized ginger thing. 🙂 There are 2 methods I’m going to try. One VERY time consuming, the other .. not. ~ karen

  41. marie says:

    I have medical issues that causes me to be nauseanted everyday, have been for about ten years. I have the phobia too but throwing up has become almost second nature for me. I have many friends that have these issues and the phobia too, many of them use ginger candies and such. I myself do not like them, althu I found some wonderful cookies at Christmas time at World Market, they also carry the candies and the crytalized ginger. I am wondering if I could do the homemade kind or as someone mentioned the smaller pieces. I have two kinds of Rx Meds and over the counter motion meds on hand at all times but even those won’t always fend off the sickness. This is a horrible way to live and I am so glad so many have found that the ginger works so very well for them. Thank you for posting and sharing so others may have relief

    • Karen says:

      Marie – You’re very welcome. I still haven’t had time to play around with the recipes to see which one is the best. I’ll post it as soon as I can. ~ karen!

  42. Gknee says:

    Love ginger and it’s always worked for my upset tummy…..BUT I’m curious as to why boats are prone to spider infestation. Man I hate spiders!

  43. Justince Frank says:

    I bought two different types of “candy” ginger today. One is like an orgy in your mouth and the other is like eating soap. The delicious one was a bag Ting Ting Jahe and is a spicy candy made of ginger, I guess set in Tapioca junk. It’s outstanding either way. Sweet and spicy. The other was a bad of ginger slices (Red Flower brand) covered in sugar and I thought I was going to throw up when I eagerly tossed one into my mouth thinking it was going to be as delicious as the other ginger candy. They taste like Soap! Yuk!

    • Karen says:

      Justince – So we’ve clarified you like candy but don’t actually like Ginger. Good news … you’ve found a candy you like. Bad news .. it won’t do a thing for nausea. Good news … you’ve found a candy you like. Bad news … it probably won’t work in a stir fry. ~ karen

      • Justince Frank says:

        Well now Leia, hold on, hold on. I don’t like sugar coated soap disguised as ginger. hahahahaha I went home and shredded up some ginger root for the first time and made a tea out of it and it was delicious and I also liked eating the shredded pulp from the tea. Now I’m addicted to ginger. But not the nasty bag I bought the other day. 🙂

        • Karen says:

          Justince – LOL. Leia! You should be able to buy crystalized ginger in a bulk store. It’s ginger with sugar on the outside, basically. ~ karen

  44. sarah says:

    Hi Karen,
    I just stumbled over your blog today and of coarse when i find a cool blog a read its post posts until i am delirious.
    Anyways, I have Emetophobia, I have since I have had the capabilities of remembering.
    I have done SOOOO much research over the years of how to avoid getting sickness that make you vomit or get nauseous and SOOOOO much research on natural things that prevent it.
    Here are some helpful things to keep around incase of nausea for an Emetophobic. (And this stuff is NOT just for motion sickness at all)

    and of I carry powdered ginger in my purse at all times, just incase, and Pepto is the last resort.

    hope that could help in any future situation!


  45. angie says:

    I followed the link for emetophobia, and I found this amusing. After the definitions and scientific explanations, there’s this list….
    Notable people with emetophobia
    Denise Richards
    Charlie Brooker
    Regina Hall
    Frankie Sandford
    Cameron Diaz
    Matt Lauer
    Howie Mandel
    Joan Baez
    James Dean
    Karen Bartelsen
    Jessica Craig
    (Okay, okay, I added you onto the list, but I think you’re every bit as notable as the rest of this group.)

  46. Sia says:

    I discovered candied ginger a few months ago. Since then, I have lost many friends who were courageous enough to try it. Did that just read as though they may have died after eating it? Well, they almost did. That’s what their faces showed. That or they were ready to commit a murder.
    I love the stuff, and knowing it’s good for nausea just made it better for me!

    • Karen says:

      I can’t imagine not liking it! What are you friends with? Burlap bags? Because everyone likes candied ginger! Or maybe not. 🙂 ~ karen

      • Sia says:

        Hmmmm… You know what’s even funnier? I have no idea how I got to this post. I JUST noticed it’s from a whole other YEAR!!!
        Well, then. I think it was meant to be… Cuz after waking up feeling a little under the weather, and reading this, I went down the road to get some. Been eating some all day, and feel better!
        Wonder how many kg/lbs your 500ml jar takes! I’d be surprised to find out my 6.70€/kg is cheaper than Canada!!!

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