Nausea is uncomfortable. It’s frustrating to treat and can feel like it lasts for hours. Seasickness, motion sickness, morning sickness, and an upset stomach can all make you feel like you’re going to toss your cookies. The best way to treat nausea is to eliminate it at the source.
Luckily, there are natural home remedies that can provide a quick fix and make you feel better fast. Essential oils are renowned in traditional medicine for their extensive health benefits. They were commonly used by ancient societies to treat nausea symptoms. These oils work quickly to target the cause of nausea and their delightful aromas make feeling better a treat. Their aromas range from floral and fresh to piquant and energizing. To help you feel better, we’ve made a list of the best essential oils you can use to combat nausea.
The Best Essential Oils for Nausea
1. Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint is one of the go-to natural plants for treating upset stomach. The Ancient Romans and Egyptians used peppermint to treat nausea and other digestive issues. The Chinese use peppermint tea to treat a host of problems in the digestive tract. Peppermint oil can also help improve and eliminate symptoms of nausea.
Peppermint oil contains anti-inflammatory properties that help to soothe an upset stomach. The oil works to relax the stomach muscles that contract and cause nausea when irritated.
A study published in the Journal of Perianesthesia Nursing investigated the effects of peppermint oil aromatherapy on postoperative nausea. The study consisted of 33 post-surgery patients who reported symptoms of nausea. The results showed that aromatherapy and controlled breathing helped to decrease nausea in the majority of patients.
Another study published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice analyzed the effects of aromatherapy on cancer patients with nausea. Of the study participants, 47% said they felt a significant improvement in feelings of nausea when using aromatherapy inhaler sticks.
A study published in the Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal examined the ability of peppermint oil to reduce nausea during pregnancy. The study comprised 60 pregnant women with nausea and vomiting related to pregnancy. The women were divided into two groups in the double blind study.
The experimental group received aromatherapy using mint oil while the placebo group received saline aromatherapy. Patients were assessed during the trial as well as 7 days after the intervention. After 4 nights, the participants who received mint oil showed a decreased level of nausea symptoms. Both groups reported reduced nausea after seven days, indicating peppermint oil is more effective in the short-term.
How to Use: Aromatherapy
Research has shown that aromatherapy and controlled breathing are effective in treating nausea. Add 2 drops peppermint oil to an essential oil diffuser when you feel nauseous. You can also add 1 drop peppermint oil and 1 drop carrier oil like almond oil to your wrists. Sniff anytime you feel nauseous or when boarding a plane or boat.
2. Ginger Essential Oil
Ginger tea is a famous digestive aid that can help treat symptoms associated with food poisoning and stomach aches. Ginger oil may be just as effective in treating nausea. Ginger is commonly used in nausea aids including motion sickness gums and personal inhaler sticks.
A controlled clinical trial published in the International Journal of Aromatherapy investigated the effects of ginger oil on patients undergoing surgery. Researchers examined the ability of ginger to prevent the onset of nausea when applied prior to surgery. The trial lasted for 6 months and used a 5% solution of ginger essential oil. Results showed that patients who received ginger oil demonstrated an average 20% chance of nausea. Patients that did not use ginger oil had a 50% chance of experiencing nausea after surgery.
A meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine examined 6 major studies on ginger and nausea. The studies examined a total of 256 patients over treatment periods ranging from 1 dose to 4 days of intervention. Results showed that 5 of the 6 studies demonstrated a significant difference between the use of ginger oil and placebo on nausea. Patients that received ginger reported significantly decreased nausea.
How to Use: Inhalation
Steam inhalation is a great option for cases of severe nausea. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and remove from heat. Add 5 drops of ginger oil and cover your head with a towel.
Move your head about 6 inches above the hot water and inhale deeply for 5 minutes. Focus on breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. The ginger aroma and controlled breathing will help to relax stomach muscles and reduce irritation that causes nausea.
Alternatively, ginger is a good option for treating motion sickness. Add 1 drop each of ginger oil and carrier oil behind your ears or on your wrists before boarding a flight. You can also rub a few drops together between your palms and cup your hands beneath your nose and mouth. Inhale the fragrance and focus on deep breathing.
3. Lavender Essential Oil
Have you ever felt like you were going to be sick after dealing with an intense emotional situation or heightened stress? If so, lavender oil may help to minimize your feelings of nausea. Lavender is known for its relaxing properties and this oil can help reduce stress that causes nausea.
Lavender oil targets the nervous system directly to prevent the release of stress chemicals such as cortisol. The oil also triggers neurotransmitters to produce happy hormones such as dopamine, which can help fight anxiety. The relaxing properties of lavender oil may help to reduce nausea caused by stress.
How to Use: Oil Bath
Taking a relaxing bath may help treat nausea if your symptoms are caused by stress or anxiety. Run a hot bath and add 4 drops lavender essential oil to the hot water. You can also add other floral oils known for relaxation such as rose oil or geranium oil. Soak for 15 to 20 minutes, breathing in the sweet floral fragrance.
You can also massage lavender oil on your stomach to reduce nausea and stress. Combine 4 drops lavender oil with a teaspoon of carrier oil. Rub in gentle circular motions and breathe in the lavender fragrance.
4. Fennel Essential Oil
Fennel seeds are used to treat upset stomach and are renowned for their ability to treat constipation and bloating. Fennel oil may be able to reduce nausea in a similar way. Fennel plants contain phytoestrogens—compounds that are known digestive aids. These compounds work to settle the stomach and reduce inflammation that causes bloating and nausea.
An analysis published in BioMed Research International examined the composition of fennel. Researchers found that fennel has antispasmodic properties. These properties help to relax stomach muscles that can cause the urge to vomit when they contract. Fennel was also shown to have gastrointestinal protective effects that prevented the incidence of ulcers that can cause acid reflux and nausea.
How to Use: Inhalation
Add 3 drops fennel oil to an ultrasonic or nebulizing diffuser. Use daily to protect the digestive system or diffuse when you start to feel nauseous. You can also add one or two drops of the oil to a personal inhaler stick to prevent nausea on the go.
5. Lemon Essential Oil
Lemons are known for their extensive health benefits and uses. They can help disinfect countertops, can lighten hair, and may even smooth skin tone. They are packed with vitamins and nutrients that are good for the immune system and protect overall health. Lemon oil is no exception and research shows it may help to reduce nausea.
A study published in the Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal in 2014 examiend the effects of lemon oil on nausea during pregnancy. The randomized, controlled, double blind study consisted of 100 pregnant women who experienced nausea. The women were divided into two groups: one inhaled lemon essential oil while the other inhaled a placebo treatment.
Scientists examined levels of nausea 24 hours before treatment and throughout the 4 day trial. Both groups reported lower levels of nausea after treatment, but the results were more pronounced in the women who received lemon oil.
How to Use: Aromatherapy
The research shows that the scent of lemon oil is effective in treating nausea. Add 3 drops of the oil to a diffuser any time you start feeling nauseous.
Side Effects of Essential Oils
Essential oils help treat nausea with very few side effects. As with all natural remedies, there are a few things to keep in mind when using essential oils. Most side effects can be avoided with proper use and by using pure, high-quality oils.
The most commonly reported side effect of essential oils is skin irritation or allergic reaction. Essential oils are highly concentrated forms of the plants they are derived from. If you have allergies to a specific plant, it’s a good idea to avoid using essential oils made from those plants.
Essential oils should always be applied to skin in combination with carrier oil such as jojoba oil or coconut oil to avoid irritation. Always conduct a small test of the essential oil on your skin. Dab 1 drop of the oil on skin and wait 24 hours. If there is no reaction, you can apply the oil in larger quantities.
Some essential oils have been shown to alter blood sugar or blood pressure levels, which can interact with heart and diabetes medications. Other essential oils inhibit the uptake of vitamins and minerals as well as prescription medications. Consult a licensed healthcare provider before using essential oils to treat nausea if you have a medical condition.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should consult a healthcare professional before using essential oils. Some essential oils may reduce lactation, making it difficult for women to breastfeed. Research on the effects of essential oils in pregnancy and on infants is inconclusive. Always use caution and speak to your doctor before using these oils during pregnancy. Essential oils should not be used on infants or young children in order to avoid potential side effects.
To treat nausea, most people assume you have to take something orally. Essential oils are most effective in providing nausea relief when inhaled. Most research has shown that it is the aroma of these oils that reduces nausea symptoms. Some essential oils can be consumed orally, but others like peppermint oil are considered toxic.
Oral consumption of essential oils can result in serious side effects. Only consume essential oils under the care of a licensed aromatherapist or a physician. Otherwise, stick to breathing in the stunning fragrance of these oils when you want to reduce nausea.
Essential Oils and Nausea
Essential oils may be an effective treatment of mild nausea. These oils can treat stress-induced nausea by inducing relaxation. Essential oils also reduce inflammation that can aggravate stomach muscles and cause vomiting. The use of essential oils in conjunction with deep breathing may also help to reduce nausea. Try one of these oils or combine a few to find what works for you.