Extremely unpleasant, nausea and vomiting often come together. Of course, the latter doesn’t have to happen and it’s easier to prevent. Nausea though is harder to prevent. But when they both cause all that discomfort, you can count on a few essential oils for nausea and vomiting.
Find out why they’re good at what they do, along with details about:
- What happens to your body when nausea and vomiting strike.
- How essential oils can help you feel better and prevent most episodes. What they are and how they work, explained.
- A few of the best essential oils for nausea, dizziness, and vomiting. With the usual pros and cons to help you find the best remedy.
- How to use these aromatic oils to better enjoy their complete benefits and effects.
- Different types of nausea and an essential oil recipe for each. Check out how to soothe pregnancy or emotional nausea, chemotherapy or stomach bug nausea, etc.
Best Essential Oils for Nausea and Vomiting and How They Work (Pros & Cons)
There can be nausea without vomiting, but there can’t be vomiting without nausea. Nausea is the first symptom of vomiting; it always precedes it.
Vomiting is among the most basic defense mechanisms of the body. The body is usually trying to rid the stomach of harmful pathogens through vomiting. Vomiting is often connected to a very high intra-abdominal pressure. This high level of pressure is started by nausea.
What happens inside your stomach at that time is quite complex. In short, though, nausea disrupts the normal activity of the GI tract. (GI = gastrointestinal)
It then follows local irritation, which leads to vomiting. Spasms or dry heaves (retching) increases the intra-abdominal pressure. This pressure is then sent into the chest area.
Heaves also promote muscle contraction. This muscle contraction helps the contents of the stomach to travel through the esophagus.
The way nausea happens in the body and what exactly triggers it is not yet known. But it is thought that nausea and vomiting can be evoked by certain stimuli. That is a type of emotional nausea that can be triggered by people, buildings, places, etc. They’re tied to very strong emotions of fear and anxiety mostly.
Luckily, Aromatherapy shows a lot of potential in dealing with nausea and vomiting.
How Can Essential Oils Help with Nausea and Vomiting
Before finding out what essential oils are good for nausea and vomiting, I must explain a few things. For instance, what are essential oils?
They are concentrated substances extracted from special glands found in plants. Steam is used to extract the oil molecules from flowers, seeds, bark, root, resin, etc.
These essential oils have been used for centuries as remedies for all sorts of disorders. Their chemistry is a very complex one. Each essence is unique in its composition and effects. Though many of them can have similar effects, they act differently.
Aromatic oils are highly volatile, meaning they can evaporate very fast. Their tiny active molecules can enter our bodies through inhalation or topical application. Inhalation is the most effective, as it ensures that 50 – 70% of the oil is being absorbed.
When they enter the body (cells and blood), they localize the affected area and start working. They can be:
- Analgesic (pain relievers),
- Antihistamine (treat allergies),
- Carminative (relieve gas),
- Diuretic (increase urine production, which leads to toxin elimination),
Their complexity makes them useful in all sorts of situations. When it comes to nausea and vomiting, essential oils have the following benefits:
- Soothe and calm down muscle contractions and dry heaves (spasms).
- Improve digestion by boosting bile production. An increased production of gastric juices can neutralize the excess acid in the stomach.
- Stimulate the production of white blood cells that strengthen the immune system.
- Increase the body’s resistance to toxins and pathogens.
- Decrease inflammation and irritation in the intestines.
- Kill bacteria and viruses in the gut and help rebalance the gut flora.
- Induce relaxation and lower blood pressure.
- Penetrate the blood-brain barrier and affect the vomiting center of the brain. This center is found in the dorsolateral medulla.
- Affect the nervous system by “telling” it to relax. This communication happens between neurotransmitters. They are in fact the ones that Peppermint has an influence on.
- Promote a better sleep.
There is still little known about the action mechanism of essential oils. But research is still being conducted, and what little we know so far is encouraging.
But is it possible for essential oils to cause nausea? I have found a bit of conflicting information here. A popular book says that “citrus bioflavonoids can actually cause nausea and vomiting”.
At the same time, there are also studies on Lemon oil, which was found effective in relieving nausea. I will give you the link when I tell you more about the oil. It may be because Lemon oil contains a lower amount of flavonoids. But I haven’t exactly found proof to sustain this claim.
Researchers tell us that it is still a challenge to control nausea properly. They also say that there’s need for further research on this subject.
But as you’ve seen, essential oils for nausea and vomiting actually have great potential.
Now you’re probably wondering what essential oils are good for nausea and vomiting, right? Well, some of the best ones are Peppermint, Ginger and Lemon. Let’s take a closer look at their pros and cons.
1) Peppermint Essential Oil
Botanical name: Mentha piperita.
- Does Peppermint help with nausea? Yes, it does. Peppermint is very high in menthol and menthone. These two substances have the ability to stimulate the body through the nervous system. The oil stimulates the liver and the pancreas and promotes bile production. That’s how it can neutralize excess acid and help digest the food better.
- Peppermint also has antispasmodic properties. This makes it useful for soothing muscle contractions in the digestive tract. This ability can prevent vomiting.
- It can also protect from viral infections and provide an anesthetic effect. Thus, using Peppermint oil for nausea can also relieve pain. How do you use Peppermint oil for nausea? In a massage blend applied to the stomach area. I will tell you more about how to use these aromatic oils soon.
- Peppermint oil has estrogen-like effects, which can interact with certain medications.
- In high dose, it can be toxic for the nerves and nervous system.
- It can also induce seizures and breathing difficulty for certain people. Talk to a doctor before using it.
- Also in high dose, Peppermint can have narcotic effects. In people deficient in the G6PD enzyme, it can cause jaundice.
- If you have problems with the liver, bile or heart, refer to a medic first.
Why I like it:
With its very refreshing and mentholated scent, Peppermint is very good for nausea. As you’ve seen, it can also prevent vomiting. On top of all these benefits, Peppermint is great for cold, the flu, nasal congestion, skin care, etc.
2) Ginger Essential Oil
Botanical name: Zingiber officinale.
- Studies show that Ginger can relieve nausea from surgery, motion sickness, and pregnancy. Ginger has antiemetic effects, as it binds to the right receptors (5-HT3). That leads to an increased production of detoxification enzymes. These enzymes can then counteract the oxidative damage to the digestive tissue. This is the same as antioxidants do. There’s no surprise there because it is also a good antioxidant.
- Ginger was found able to strengthen the immune system of mice.
- Ginger managed to improve nausea in patients undergoing chemotherapy.
- Using Ginger essential oil for nausea and vomiting is beneficial from many points of view. It has antispasmodic effects, just like Peppermint. This calms down contractions and prevents vomiting.
- It also has anti-inflammatory effects, which soothes the irritation inside the stomach.
- Avoid using Ginger oil if you’re on anticoagulant medications.
- Avoid using it before surgery also.
- The oil should not be used on a long term.
Why I like it:
Ginger has a citrusy scent, very spicy, effervescent (bubbly) and fresh. This scent alone can help relieve nausea. But Ginger is also good for libido and skin and hair care.
3) Lemon Essential Oil
Botanical name: Citrus limon.
- A controlled clinical trial found the oil of Lemon effective against nausea and vomiting from pregnancy. It was able to reduce these symptoms plus retching intensity during treatment. The women were asked to inhale the oil as soon as they felt nausea.
- Lemon essential oil has strong antibacterial properties.
- It can also stimulate bile production and improve digestion.
- The oil of Lemon is also great for relieving anxiety and stress feelings.
- It can also improve the circulation, which speeds up the feeling of being well.
- Lemon essential oil is often used to prevent or improve motion sickness. It contains a high level of limonene, which acts on gastric motility. Gastric motility refers to the contractions of the smooth muscles of the digestive system.
- Lemon oil has a high risk of inducing seizures.
- It is also phototoxic. This means it has a strong reaction if it gets in contact with the sun or UV light. The skin could get badly burnt if you expose it after using Lemon oil. You should wait at least 24 hours (or 48 according to some sources) before going out.
- Lemon oil should not be used if you suffer from gallstones.
Why I like it:
Lemon is the definition of that sharp citrus scent. Inhaling it is very refreshing and uplifting and can cut through nausea. It is also great for skin care, hair growth, viral infections, etc.
What other essential oils are good for nausea and vomiting? We can also count on:
- Sweet Marjoram
Some of these essential oils for nausea and vomiting may not be to your liking. Either you associate their scents with bad memories, or you simply hate their scent. If that’s the case, then please avoid using them. They can only make your nausea worse.
For example, you’d think that using Lavender essential oil for nausea is a good thing. It could be indeed if you really like it. But Lavender has a heavy floral and herbaceous scent.
It may be too much when you’re battling nausea or even vomiting. So, make sure you’re using oils that you like or simply don’t find repulsive.
Cardamom, for instance, is a very good essence for motion sickness. It may not work so well if you feel nauseated because of pregnancy, a hangover or a stomach bug.
How to Use Essential Oils for Nausea and Vomiting
There are many pleasant ways in which you can use an essential oil for nausea. One of the most common methods is a massage. Blending more aromatic oils can be a lot more efficient than used alone.
A study mixed 4 antiemetic oils (Peppermint, Ginger, Cardamom, and Spearmint). It worked very well as treatment for postoperative nausea.
Topical applications – You’ll have to mix your essences with carrier (vegetable) oils. Aromatic oils can burn, irritate or sensitize the skin otherwise. Plus, carriers help spread the active molecules on large areas. Mix 10 – 15 drops with 1 Oz (30ml) carrier oil and massage the stomach and chest with it. Use circular, clockwise motions.
Diffusions – This method is the best in terms of absorption ratio. When you diffuse or inhale the essence, 50 – 70% of the essential oil can get inside your body. Add a moderate amount of drops into your ultrasonic diffuser or nebulizer. Let it diffuse for 30 minutes only. The amount will depend on the manufacturer’s specifications. But it can also depend on how large the room is and what kind of device you’re using.
Inhalers – You can soak the pad found inside an empty inhaler recipient. Use an antiemetic essential oil (that can prevent nausea and vomiting). These inhalers are the same as those used to decongest the nose and improve breathing.
Other not-so-fast methods are steam baths and hot baths. But these can be used more to quiet an upset stomach and relax, rather than prevent nausea and vomiting. These symptoms need fast action and steam or hot baths don’t provide it.
Different Types of Nausea and Essential Oil Recipes for Each
The medical term for vomiting is emesis. It is an involuntary act, which is very different from regurgitation or belching. These are considered voluntary or caused by an abnormal esophageal sphincter. Vomiting is triggered by nausea. Sometimes nausea may find relief only after throwing up.
The symptoms that usually come with nausea and vomiting are:
- Cold sweat,
- Acid reflux,
- Excess saliva,
- Stomach aches and cramps,
But what causes nausea and vomiting, right? Well, the exact mechanism of how nausea happens or works is not yet known or fully understood.
Vomiting though is known and I’ve explained what happens in the opening. These symptoms, however, can be triggered or induced by:
- Certain medications (as side effects).
- Gastroenteritis (stomach flu).
- Food poisoning.
- Chronic stress.
- Chronic headaches.
- Motion sickness.
- Certain treatments, like chemotherapy.
- Food excess.
- Alcohol excess.
- Heart problems.
- Anorexia or bulimia.
- The flu.
More serious causes:
- Bowel obstruction.
If you suspect this could be the case, go to the doctor immediately! They are rare cases though. If the vomiting can’t be stopped and tends to repeat, you must also seek medical counsel. Left untreated, it can lead to complications and dehydration.
All essential oils in this article can be used for any type of nausea. But some of them are better used for certain causes. Below you’ll find a few examples.
Essential oils for motion and seasickness
Motion and seasickness are very common, even among sailors. I recommend reading this article for more in-depth information about seasickness.
You can use any of the following to help your body adjust to the motion:
- Black Pepper
Natural Motion Sickness Recipe
- Ginger essential oil: 10 drops
- Peppermint essential oil: 10 drops
- Carrier oil: 1 Oz (30ml)
Mix these ingredients in a roll-on bottle and keep it with you when you travel. Massage your temples or wrists with it and inhale deeply, while relaxing.
Concentrate on your breathing and a very far away point. The horizon, for example, is a fixed point that can help your body find its equilibrium.
Essential oils for nausea, diarrhea, and dizziness
Diarrhea has many causes. But viral and bacterial ones can be treated with certain essences. They must be strong antibacterials and antivirals, to kill the pathogen. Find out about vertigo and dizziness and how to deal with it here.
Best essential oils for nausea, diarrhea, and dizziness:
Stop Diarrhea with Essential Oils Recipe
- Cinnamon essential oil: 6 drops
- Oregano essential oil: 4 drops
- Lemon essential oil: 6 drops
- Olive oil: 1 Oz (30ml)
Mix these oils together and shake the blend well before each use. Apply to the stomach area and massage clockwise. Repeat 3 – 5 times a day.
Essential oils for stomach bug nausea and vomiting
- Roman Chamomile
- Clove bud
Upset Stomach Essential Oil Roll-On Recipe
- Carrier oil: 1 Oz (30ml)
- Oregano essential oil: 8 drops
- Fennel essential oil: 8 drops
Apply a few drops on the stomach area with clockwise movements. Repeat 5 times a day for up to 5 continuous days. Read more about soothing an upset stomach at home here.
What essential oils are good for hangover nausea and vomiting?
- Rosemary (ct. verbenone)
Try the following essential oils recipe for hangover nausea, hydrate really well and rest.
Hangover Nausea Recipe
- Macadamia oil: 1 Oz. (30ml)
- Peppermint essential oil: 15 drops
- Rosemary ct. Verbenone essential oil: 10 drops
- Lemon essential oil: 15 drops
Give the blend a good shake before each use. Apply a few drops on the stomach area and massage clockwise. You can do the same on the chest area or the temples. Repeat 3 times a day.
Essential oils for nausea from chemotherapy
Few aromatic oils had the chance to be tested. Ginger extract is among those few. It enhanced all other antiemetic medicines for people undergoing chemotherapy.
There are other potential essential oils for vomiting and nausea that could work. Aromatherapy is, in fact, a complementary therapy.
- Ginger (proven)
Soothing Chemotherapy Nausea and Vomiting Recipe
- Ginger essential oil: 20 drops
- Lemon essential oil: 12 drops
This is a diffuser recipe. Mix both oils in an empty glass bottle and use a few drops per diffusion. You can repeat every 2 hours if needed and keep a window ajar while doing so.
Essential oils for nausea due to pregnancy
There are quite a few studies that tested the efficiency of Aromatherapy for nausea caused by pregnancy. The most promising ones were Lemon and Ginger. The others though may be just as efficient. They just haven’t been tested yet.
Beat Morning Sickness Diffuser Recipe
- Lemon essential oil: 15 drops
- Ginger essential oil: 15 drops
- Spearmint essential oil: 8 drops
Mix them all in an empty glass bottle and use a few drops per each diffusion session. You can do so when you feel nauseated or 3- 4 times along the day.
Essential Oils for Emotional Nausea and Vomiting
It doesn’t have to be logical, it just happens. Strong emotions like the fear of speaking in public or anxiety can cause your GI tract many problems. The most common ones are, of course, nausea and vomiting.
Unfortunately, some can only feel better after throwing up. But it is possible to train the mind to prevent it. That can be done in time, once you inhale from a certain essential oil for nausea and vomiting.
You can choose from:
Beat Emotional Nausea and Vomiting! Inhaler Recipe
- Lemon essential oil: 2 drops
- Orange essential oil: 1 drop
- Ginger essential oil: 2 drops
Soak the pad inside the inhaler until moist and place it back in. Hold it tightly capped when you’re not using it to prevent the oils from evaporating. Take a minute to inhale and breathe in deeply when needed.
Nausea and vomiting can have many causes, including emotional ones. It’s best to be prepared and have a blend or an essential oil with you to inhale when needed. Remember to choose your antiemetic oil, knowingly. The wrong fragrance can make your nausea worse.
Your first aid kit of essential oils for nausea and vomiting should contain one or more ingredients. You can count on Lemon, Ginger, and Peppermint. But you can also count on several others, depending on what you like.
What is your experience with Aromatherapy for digestive problems, nausea, and vomiting? Do you have a winning recipe? If so, how did you feel after using it?