Be it morning sickness during the first trimester of pregnancy, nausea due to an upset stomach, or as a sign of stress and anxiety, nausea is always exhausting. That’s why so many people resort to essential oils for nausea as a natural way to help with their condition, but it’s important to pick the right oil to guarantee relief. In this article, we’ll take a good look at the most effective essential oils for nausea, according to recent scientific studies and herbalist traditions from all around the world!
6 Essential Oils for Nausea
If you need a quick rundown of the best options to try, or if you want to jump straight to a specific oil, use the navigation links below:
Now, let’s explore each of these oils in more detail.
Refreshing and energizing, peppermint essential oil is a great herb to relieve nausea and prevent vomiting. Works well both when used in a diffuser or just when rubbed on the temples, wrists, or neck.
By the way, spearmint is another excellent essential oil for nausea, although slightly less effective than peppermint. Pick the one you like most in terms of aroma.
Clinical Studies: Peppermint Oil for Nausea
- Peppermint oil inhalation is effective in reducing nausea after heart surgery.
- Post-surgery patients who relieve their nausea using peppermint oil require less conventional anti-nausea drugs.
- Peppermint oil is safe and effective in relieving nausea during pregnancy.
- Women can inhale peppermint oil to get almost immediate relief from nausea after C-section.
For many decades now, women all around the world have been relying on ginger snacks during their first few months of pregnancy to fight off morning sickness. Studies have confirmed the root’s effectiveness in this matter, and it turns out that ginger essential oil is just as great for nausea as eating actual ginger. Try rubbing some ginger into your temples or wrists, or even just put a few drops on a clean cloth and keep it at hand for emergency support.
Clinical Studies: Ginger Oil for Nausea
- Ginger oil and lemon oil are equally effective in relieving nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.
- Inhaling ginger oil can calm down nausea and prevent vomiting in abdominal surgery patients during about 6 hours after inhalation.
- Breast cancer patients who wore a necklace with ginger essential oil for five days experienced lower levels of chemotherapy-related nausea and a higher level of perceived quality of life.
- In one study, inhaling ginger essential oil relieved chemo-related nausea in 67% of the surveyed children with cancer.
- A few studies reported that ginger has good potential in treating motion sickness.
Generally speaking, lavender isn’t the go-to essential oil to treat most cases of nausea—for example, nausea caused by pregnancy or an upset stomach. At the same time, lavender essential oil has been one of the most effective natural remedies to treat stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental issues. Since many of these conditions are accompanied by nausea, this is exactly where this oil shows its full potential.
Clinical Studies: Lavender Oil for Nausea
- Lavender essential oil is excellent for soothing anxiety, which is often accompanied by nausea.[11,12]
- Inhaling lavender oil also decreases the perception of pain and reduces the need for analgesic (painkilling) medications. Severe pain may lead to stress-induced nausea, so that’s another great use for lavender essential oil.
Lemon is one of the classic essential oils used to treat any form of nausea, including morning sickness in pregnancy. Additionally, studies reported that its zesty aroma clears the mind, boosts attention and concentration, enhances brain function, and even improves mood.
Clinical Studies: Lemon Oil for Nausea
- Ginger oil and lemon oil are equally effective in relieving nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.
- Lemon essential oil brings statistically significant relief for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy starting on the second day of aromatherapy.
Fennel is one of the best essential oils for digestive health. It relieves upset stomach, heartburn, bloating, appetite issues, and virtually any other digestion-related problem under the sun. That’s why fennel essential oil is one of the best remedies for nausea caused by issues in the stomach or guts, but somewhat less useful for other types of nausea. For an even better effect and digestive health support, enjoy fennel in your meals too!
Clinical Studies: Fennel Oil for Nausea
- Massages, compresses, and inhalation of fennel essential oil is effective in reducing nausea after surgery.
- When eaten as a food, fennel is known to reduce symptoms of menopause thanks to its high content of phytoestrogens—plant-based compounds that mimic the action of estrogen in the body.
Chamomile is a well-known traditional remedy for gastrointestinal spasms, making it one of the best cures for nausea caused by an upset stomach or any other abdominal issue. Some experts recommend taking chamomile tea in such cases, but aromatherapy works well too. If possible, opt for Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) instead of (Matricaria recutita), as the former is somewhat more effective for nausea and gastrointestinal relief in general.
Clinical Studies: Chamomile Oil for Nausea
- By relieving gastrointestinal spasms, chamomile helps to normalize the function of the stomach and guts, calms down nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pains.
- Chamomile oil is also effective against diarrhea and inflammation. When applied topically, it enhances the regeneration of wounds.
How Does Aromatherapy Work?
Aromatherapy works by interacting with the olfactory (smell) receptors in the nose. Then, these receptors send their signals to the limbic system—the brain structure that plays a significant role in controlling emotions, mood, memory, and many other physiological processes. Many of these are indirectly related to nausea, like stress and anxiety, so soothing them from the emotional side relieves nausea as well.
At the same time, a tiny part of the active compounds in the inhaled essential oils is absorbed in the respiratory tract, reaches the blood, and leads to systemic benefits in the body.
The most common ways to enjoy aromatherapy are:
- Essential Oil Diffusers. Diffusers are special devices that disperse essential oils into the air around. They’re often combined with air humidifiers and purifiers for added benefits. Diffusers are one of the best ways to enjoy aromatherapy without doing any specific procedures, just by filling your home with the right scent.
- Steam Inhalation. Add 3 to 7 drops of the essential oil of your choice to a large pot with hot water. Then, cover your head with a towel, bend over the pot, and breathe the steam through your nose for 2-3 minutes at a time. Close your eyes to avoid eye irritation.
- Topical Application. Apply a few drops of the diluted essential oil of your choice to your temples, wrists, or neck to inhale them throughout the day as you go. As an added benefit, oils with anti-inflammatory properties will treat possible conditions in the area.
Risks & Potential Side Effects
According to the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) recommendations, all essential oils are generally safe to use for aromatherapy, but should never be taken internally without qualified guidance from an experienced professional.
The logic here is that it’s virtually impossible to get too much of the oil’s active compounds through aromatherapy—contrary to taking them by mouth. Effective use of essential oils internally is possible and safe only with extensive knowledge and experience on the topic, so please avoid doing that on your own accord.
Also, keep in mind that many essential oils can cause skin irritation if applied undiluted. For effective and comfortable topical use, always go for a concentration of 1 to 5%, meaning 1 to 5 drops of pure essential oil diluted in one teaspoon of a carrier oil of your choice (almond or sesame are universally good choices).
In general, side effects due to essential oil use are rare and mild, but make sure to watch out for any strange symptoms. These could be not only a side effect of your oil but as an additional symptom linked to your nausea. In this case, don’t hesitate to reach out for medical assistance just to be on the safe side at all times.
Aromatherapy is an effective natural way of relieving nausea and vomiting, especially if you pick the right essential oil.
- Peppermint and ginger are the best essential oils for nausea in general
- Fennel and chamomile essential oils work great for nausea due to digestive issues
- Lavender oil is a powerful remedy for stress and anxiety-related nausea
- Lemon oil is great for soothing nausea and vomiting during pregnancy
Although essential oils are generally safe, avoid taking them internally without medical supervision and guidance, and limit yourself only to aromatherapy and topical applications. To use essential oils topically, don’t forget to dilute them in any carrier oil to prevent skin irritation!
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- Joulaeerad, Narges, et al. “Effect of Aromatherapy with Peppermint Oil on the Severity of Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy: A Single-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled Trial.” Journal of reproduction & infertility vol. 19,1 (2018): 32-8.
- Amzajerdi, Azam et al. “Effect of mint aroma on nausea, vomiting, and anxiety in pregnant women.” Journal of family medicine and primary care vol. 8,8 (2019): 2597-601.
- Lane, Betty et al. “Examination of the effectiveness of peppermint aromatherapy on nausea in women post-C-section.” Journal of holistic nursing: official journal of the American Holistic Nurses’ Association vol. 30,2 (2012): 90-104; quiz 105-6.
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- Lua, Pei Lin et al. “Effects of inhaled ginger aromatherapy on chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and health-related quality of life in women with breast cancer.” Complementary therapies in medicine, vol. 23,3 (2015): 396-404.
- Evans, Anna et al. “The Use of Aromatherapy to Reduce Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea in Children With Cancer: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial.” Journal of pediatric oncology nursing : official journal of the Association of Pediatric Oncology Nurses vol. 35,6 (2018): 392-8.
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