Medical Disclaimer: This article is based on published medical research but is provided for information purposes only. It should not be considered a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Essential oils have long been used as natural pesticides, insect repellants, and food preservatives. But they are perhaps best known for their therapeutic properties.
Distilled from natural plant compounds, essential oils have been employed since some of the earliest days of history to treat ailments ranging from sore throat to headache. But perhaps one if their most potent uses is for nausea.
With the advent of modern oil diffuser technology like the excellent Vitruvi Stone Diffuser (which we originally reviewed here) as well as the proliferation of dozens of new brands, essential oils are having a sort of renaissance. And at a time when COVID-19 has most of us holed up in isolation, essential oils provide a low-risk source of comfort and relaxation that’s both affordable and accessible.
How to Use Essential Oils for Nausea
It’s important to know that essential oils are highly concentrated compounds and therefore must be diluted in before being consumed. Never ingest essential oils as many of them can be toxic.
The two most common ways to use essential oils for nausea are:
- Diffused into the air and inhaled
- Mixed with a so-called “carrier oil” and rubbed on the skin
A “carrier oil” is basically any safe, neutral oil that can be mixed with the essential oil to dilute its potency. Oil is hydrophobic, which means it can’t be mixed with water, so you must find another oil to mix it with if you want to dilute its potency. Common “carrier oils” include coconut oil, jojoba oil, olive oil, and avocado oil. You can even use standard vegetable oil that you’d cook with. It’s really up to your preference when it comes to the scent and how the oil reacts to your skin.
Overall, our favorite way to consume essential oils is by inhaling it diffused in the air—using the Vitruvi, our favorite diffuser. Diffusing can bring relief over long periods of time, and depending on the scent, can leave you feeling both clean and refreshed.
Rubbing onto the skin can cause irritation and redness if your skin is sensitive to your chosen carrier oil. It also can leave your skin with that oily, slick feeling that oil tends to leave behind. This doesn’t bother some people but for us it’s an annoyance that causes more discomfort than it eases.
Every person is different though, and we encourage you to give both methods a try. You might be surprised to find the format you didn’t expect to love actually provides a great foundation for your
Why Use Essential Oils for Nausea?
My wife and I first discovered the nausea-reduction benefits of essential oils while she was pregnant with our second child. Her first (and second) trimester nausea was much worse the second time around, and without the ability to take anti-nausea medication, she often found herself curled up in bed feeling absolutely miserable.
We’d heard, of course, that essential oils could be used to treat nausea, so we did a little research and picked a few that were safe for pregnant women. We started by diffusing Vitruvi Peppermint Essential Oils using our Vitruvi Diffuser, and within moments it seemed as if the clouds had parted and we could see again. She described the difference as “instantaneous,” and “completely relieving.” Of course, she still felt the need to be confined to bed to keep it easy on her stomach, but I could tell just sitting with her that she was no longer in misery.
Pregnancy is just one of the many reasons one might be interested in using essential oils for nausea. In fact, there’s really no end to the number of uses. I suffer from extreme motion sickness whenever I’m a passenger in a car or boat, peppermint and lavender essential oils have done wonders to calm my stomach in these awful times, without any of drowsiness or other side-effects of Dramamine, Bonine, or other medical alternatives.
Here’s a full list of different types of nausea that essential oils can help resolve:
- Morning sickness and other nausea due to pregnancy
- Motion sickness from cars, buses, boats, and other moving vehicles
- Nausea caused by illnesses such as food poisoning
- Nausea caused by medications and chemotherapy
- Nausea caused by conditions such as gastroparesis
- Nausea caused by pain, anxiety, headache, or and dehydration
It’s important to keep in mind that essential oils aren’t a panacea. Taking my wife’s experience as an example, essential oils made her nausea easier to bear but didn’t take it away entirely.
If you’re suffering from severe and chronic nausea you should always first turn to your doctor to help you manage symptoms and find relief. Essential oils can be a great supplement to more traditional medical treatments, but should never be seen as a medical solution for the underlying problem.
5 Best Essential Oils for Nausea
There are a seemingly endless number of essential oils available on the market today. A quick Google search can lead to a dizzying amount of information, products, and brands.
We’ve taken a rigorous look at the best essential oils to help manage nausea, morning sickness, vomiting, motion sickness, upset stomach and more. Here are the ones we love the most.
Peppermint tea has long been used to treat symptoms for all kinds of illnesses including nausea, vomiting, upset stomach, and diarrhea. So it shouldn’t be surprising that peppermint essential oil, extracted directly from peppermint leaves, has been adopted for similar uses.
The hard science on peppermint oil is spotty. The studies that have been done are directionally positive, but as of this writing we haven’t found any that can make a causal link. As I mentioned above, my wife had great success relieving her morning sickness in her second pregnancy. And there are countless examples of peppermint oil providing relief for post-chemotherapy nausea, post-operative nausea, and even irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
It’s important to note that what we know about peppermint oil during pregnancy is still limited. Physicians recommend pregnant women should always opt for aromatherapy consumption rather than topical consumption, as it is generally safer. Lavender oil is a great alternative to peppermint oil that also has nausea-reducing properties. Of course, we always recommend reaching out to your physician for guidance as to what is safe given your specific medial condition.
Peppermint’s cool, minty scent makes it a great option for aromatherapy via a diffuser. Breathing peppermint-infused air can neutralize feelings of nausea almost instantly.
We’ve also had success applying it peppermint essential oils topically to the stomach or to pulse points on the body. As mentioned above, never apply essential oils directly to the skin without first diluting them in a carrier oil. But once the mixture is massaged in, there is a benefit that is topical, aromatic, and best of all, portable in the event that your schedule demands your mobility.
Our Picks: Peppermint Essential Oils for Nausea
|Vitruvi Organic Peppermint, 100% Pure Premium Essential Oil (0.3 fl.oz)||1,388 Reviews||$15.00||Buy on Amazon|
|NOW Foods Essential Oils Peppermint - 1 fl oz (2)||2,489 Reviews||$14.40||Buy on Amazon|
|Rocky Mountain Oils Peppermint Essential Oil - 100% Pure and Natural Aromatherapy Essential Oils for...||478 Reviews||$16.95||Buy on Amazon|
Ginger essential oil can be a great remedy for chronic nausea and general digestive issues and has long been used this way as part of herbal therapy traditions.
Some modern studies have shown a directional link between ginger oil as an anti-nausea agent, but the jury is still out on whether these results are significant. It has also been linked to lower rates of nausea and vomiting among pregnant women, and is generally considered safe to ingest during pregnancy. Remember, though, that you should always consult your doctor before taking any therapeutic substance, as each person will have their own unqiue medical needs.
It’s rare to find someone with a neutral opinion on the smell of ginger. It has a strong, spicy aroma that most will either love or hate, which can sometimes make it a tricky aromatherapy option for those sharing a living space with other people.
If you have roommates or family members with an aversion to ginger, it can be used topically to great success. Remember to first dilute the ginger oil by mixing with a carrier oil, and then apply the stomach, pulse points, or any other points of discomfort on the body.
Our Picks: Ginger Essential Oils for Nausea
|Edens Garden Ginger Essential Oil, 100% Pure Therapeutic Grade (Undiluted Natural/ Homeopathic...||376 Reviews||$17.95||Buy on Amazon|
|doTERRA - Ginger Essential Oil - 15 mL||233 Reviews||$63.00||Buy on Amazon|
|Aura Cacia Fresh Ginger Essential Oil | GC/MS Tested for Purity | 15ml (0.5 fl. oz.)||45 Reviews||$25.66||Buy on Amazon|
Lemon is a scent widely regarded for its relaxing, mood-enhancing qualities. Perhaps that’s why it’s included in just about every cleaning product you can find at your local grocery store. It should therefore be no wonder that it has become an aromatherapy option of choice for pregnant women experiencing morning sickness.
A March 2014 study found a statistically significant decrease in the incidence of nausea and vomiting between pregnant women who inhaled lemon essential oils vs. the control group. The light and wistful scent of lemon oil makes it a very broadly palatable aromatherapy option that we highly recommend for all kinds of nausea.
And beyond nausea, Lemon oil has also shown promise in helping people manage symptoms of depression and anxiety. Providing a natural supplement (Note: Not a replacement) for talk therapy and prescription medication.
Our Picks: Lemon Essential Oils for Nausea
|Plant Therapy Organic Lemon Essential Oil 100% Pure, USDA Certified Organic, Undiluted, Natural...||1,304 Reviews||$11.99||Buy on Amazon|
|Lemon Essential Oil by REVIVE Essential Oils - 100% Pure Therapeutic Grade, for Diffuser,...||145 Reviews||$9.00||Buy on Amazon|
|Vitruvi Organic Lemon, 100% Pure Premium Essential Oil (0.3 fl.oz)||1,395 Reviews||$14.00||Buy on Amazon|
Widely known for its calming properties, lavender is also an extremely versatile essential oil. It can help manage the symptoms of everything from anxiety to insomnia, and is widely used to mitigate the effects of anxiety as brought on by myriad conditions.
A 2019 study found that lavender oil was effective at reducing the symptoms of nausea in 83% of participants when compared to the control group.
Our Picks: Lavender Essential Oils for Nausea
|Rocky Mountain Oils Lavender Essential Oil -- 15ml||368 Reviews||$22.95||Buy on Amazon|
|Aura Cacia 100% Pure Lavender Essential Oil | GC/MS Tested for Purity | 15 ml (0.5 fl. oz.) |...||1,092 Reviews||$13.15 $9.49||Buy on Amazon|
|Vitruvi Organic Lavender, 100% Pure Premium Essential Oil (0.3 fl.oz)||348 Reviews||$18.00||Buy on Amazon|
Cardamom is a spice similar to ginger but with its own unique properties and scent profile. To mitigate its sometimes strong sent, cardamom is often mixed with other essential oils, such as spearmint, peppermint, and ginger. In fact, a 2013 study found that this mixture administered topically effectively reduced symptoms of nausea among postoperative patients as compared to a control group.
Cardamom can also be an effective aromatherapy treatment administered via diffusion.
Our Picks: Cardamom Essential Oils for Nausea
|Plant Therapy Cardamom Essential Oil 10 mL (1/3 oz) 100% Pure, Undiluted, Therapeutic Grade||163 Reviews||$28.99||Buy on Amazon|
|Edens Garden Cardamom Essential Oil, 100% Pure Therapeutic Grade (Undiluted Natural/ Homeopathic...||40 Reviews||$22.95||Buy on Amazon|
|Gya Labs Cardamom Essential Oil (10ml) - Spicy & Slightly Sweet Scent||112,485 Reviews||$14.99||Buy on Amazon|
Essential oils are considered home treatments for mild and sporadic cases of nausea. If you’re experience serious or chronic nausea, especially nausea related to an underlying illness, condition, or procedure, it’s important you consult your doctor to help you choose the most effective mixture of medical treatments for you. This is especially true for pregnant women. While essential oils have been used for thousands of years to varying degrees, modern science still has yet to provide definitive conclusions on the impact EOs can have on pregnant women and their unborn children.
That said, we continue to be excited by the pace of innovation happening in the essential oils space. In recent years, people from all walks of life have discovered and re-discovered essential oils for their therapeutic and healing properties, finding ever more unique and creative applications for all manner of conditions.
We hope that in this list of anti-nausea essential oils you find one that provides safe and natural relief.
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