The Best Essential Oil for Nausea and How to Use It
Nausea: it’s honestly one of the most uncomfortable feelings in the world. You’re hot, dizzy, and leaning over a toilet – it’s miserable. We’ve all been there, but we may be able to deal with it better.
Instead of waiting it out, or turning to medication, there’s another option we can add to our list of home remedies: an essential oil for nausea – actually I have 7 of them for you.
I’m going to tackle all sorts of reasons why you’re feeling nauseous and then give you an oil to take away the queasy discomfort with essential oils for nausea in pregnancy, essential oils for nausea and diarrhea, essential oils for nausea from chemotherapy, and more.
Different Causes of Nausea
There are many different reasons why you may be feeling sick to your stomach. Some are more serious than others. Some are more long-term than others. Some are more mysterious and some are quite obvious (like a few cocktails too many).
While nausea could signal a condition that needs medical care (like gallstones or appendicitis, for example) most of the time, one of the common causes below will be the answer. And for the most part, you’re just going to have to get through it.
P.S. I’m going to point out an essential oil for nausea for each of these causes in our list below!
Almost all pregnant women will have bouts of morning sickness (incorrectly named since “morning” sickness can plague you all day long). While many women only have to deal with nausea for the first trimester, other women are dealing with it until the baby comes. The difficult thing for this particular cause of nausea is you will be limited in your options to deal with it.
A stomach bug (also called the stomach flu or gastroenteritis) is a virus or bacteria that’s often spread from person-to-person or through contaminated food. Though your symptoms may be a bit different from flu to flu and severity/longevity may change too, you can normally expect diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting – maybe fever – for under 5 days. If it’s gone on longer, see your doc! (1)
Chemotherapy may be one of the most common treatments against cancer – but it is extremely hard on the body. Your body sees the chemo as a bad invader and responds with all sorts of uncomfortable side effects, including nausea and vomiting. Sometimes the nausea starts right away; sometimes it’s delayed and it can last for days. This is a problem because it leaves you weak and often dehydrated.
Motion sickness (sometimes called being “sea sick” or “car sick”) is a balancing problem. Some parts of your body realize you’re moving, but other parts of your body don’t realize you’re moving (that’s because in reality something is moving you, so your body is both still and in motion at the same time). This disagreement among body parts leads to the nausea, vomiting, and headache (2).
Nausea and vomiting are also common symptoms of migraines. Experts believe it all may have to do with the pain or dizziness associated with these more extreme headaches.
We’d like to think of this as a college problem only, but many adults experience hangovers here and there. If you’ve had too many glasses of champagne at a wedding or too many G&Ts at the dinner party, you may wake up sick to your stomach. Your body is dehydrated and depleted of nutrients after all that alcohol, and now you pay for it.
Why Use Natural Solutions for Nausea?
Honest answer: Because there’s not much more you really can do and even if there were, natural remedies are always our first line of defense for non-emergency issues like this.
Most nausea treatment can automatically fall into the category of all-natural home remedies. Compare it to a cold. When noses start running and coughs linger, people often run to the drug store for a few different medications to get them through.
Yet when we’re feeling nauseous, most of us deal with it at home using some tried-and-true home remedies:
- We eat plain foods like crackers or dry toast to calm the nausea
- We stay in bed and get rest
- We sip on a calming drink like ginger or peppermint tea
- We get some fresh air
However, when it comes to more long-term nausea episodes, like pregnancy, chemotherapy, or stomach conditions, there are prescription medications. Zofran and Phenergan are two of the most common.
But these nausea meds can have their own set of side effects, so if you can deal with your chronic nausea naturally, you just might feel better and sidestep negative side effects.
An inhaled, ingested, or topical essential oil for nausea is an amazing middle ground. An essential oil for nausea can also be therapeutic and actually help to relieve your symptoms, but since they are all-natural, you’re not putting foreign or toxic chemicals into your body.
What About Pregnancy?
Using essential oils for nausea in pregnancy is actually a great option because essential oils are natural, non-invasive remedies. Pregnant women should speak to their health care provider before ingesting essential oils (there’s not much information on ingesting oils during pregnancy). But on the whole, the vast majority of essential oils are completely safe during pregnancy and they have been extremely helpful for me in each of mine. For a list of essential oils to avoid during pregnancy (as well as the list of oils that are safe) check out the International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists guidelines on pregnancy here and review page 4. (3).
Best Essential Oil for Nausea
Now we get to the good stuff. I’m going to do a deep dive into each essential oil for nausea. After this list, I’m going to show you how the best approach is actually combing two, three, even four of these oils at a time. But first I want you to understand what each does.
You’ve probably sipped on gingerale, snacked on candied ginger, or nibbled some gingersnaps when you were nauseous as a kid, so this concept is nothing new.
Ginger has been used to calm nausea for thousands of years (4). Now, modern medicine has proven it is indeed a real helper.
In fact, it’s one of the best essential oils for nausea and dizziness of all time.
One study confirmed ginger was far better than a placebo in supporting those with motion sickness, morning sickness, and nausea from chemotherapy. Other studies have shown it is great for helping those who come out of anesthesia after a surgery. Plus, it is safe for pregnant women – making it one of the top essential oils for nausea in pregnancy (5, 6, 7).
Just to top it all off, ginger has a positive effect on vertigo, meaning it will help get rid of any dizziness that’s accompanying your nausea (8).
Prone to motion sickness? This essential oil for nausea is super helpful with that, too. Be proactive by diffusing ginger in the car during a long trip, wearing it on a diffuser necklace while at a theme park, or even breathing in directly from the bottle during a cruise or a flight (9).
Here’s another old school home remedy that’s been proven time and time again by science: peppermint.
No doubt you’ve sipped peppermint tea or sucked on a mint to calm your stomach, but benefiting from peppermint essential oil for nausea can have an even better, more concentrated effect.
Peppermint actually calms the muscles in your stomach, so they don’t cramp and contract – and lead to nausea (9).
As one of the best essential oils for nausea from chemotherapy, peppermint was shown to provide a “significant reduction” in both the nausea’s intensity and its frequency during the first 24 hours post-treatment. Added bonus: it’s cost-effective – much more economical than other medical anti-nausea medications and with essential oils you get multiple uses – for instance, did you know peppermint can also boost your energy and support digestion? (10)
Peppermint is also a wonderful oil for reducing bowel inflammation and diarrhea. If you’re dealing with the stomach flu, this is one of your best essential oils for nausea and diarrhea.
And it’s a great pain-reliever to help with migraine symptoms, which we know is another cause of nausea! (11).
Citrus oils can be helpful for nausea too. First up is lemon.
Lemon is one of the best essential oils for nausea in pregnancy.
In fact, a study looked at 100 pregnant women who were suffering from both nausea and vomiting. One group was given lemon oil to diffuse and inhale; the other was given a placebo. The lemon group had “significantly” lower nausea and vomiting intensity scores than the placebo group (12).
(Just in case you were wondering – pure lemon essential oil is considered safe for use during pregnancy, but lemon balm may not be.)
Since lemon is detoxifying in nature, it is also great for supporting your system as it fights off a stomach bug. It’s one of the more effective essential oils for nausea and diarrhea (13). I have also used lemon essential oil during the middle to end stages of pregnancy where acid reflux can become an issue.
Bergamot is also a citrus oil, so it will have many of the same nausea-calming properties as lemon. But here’s one of the great things that sets this essential oil for nausea apart: it is also used to calm anxiety and uplift your mood. And it’s one of my absolute favorite essential oils.
When I’m feeling nauseous, I’m rarely feeling calm. It’s extremely uncomfortable and frustrating, and it can promote feelings of stress and anxiety. Sometimes this makes the symptoms even worse. That’s where bergamot steps in for double duty. It helps in two ways:
- It will help you calm the anxiety that leads to an upset stomach (maybe before a big event or after shocking news)
- It will help calm the anxiety you can get when you’re in the middle of experiencing nausea
When I think about scents I don’t want to smell while nauseous, I automatically think of dinner. So if the thought of smelling basil while you’re feeling sick sounds awful, rest assured. The pure oil itself is herbal and super refreshing – not like taking a whiff of spaghetti sauce.
Basil can help you prevent vomiting, so it’s automatically one of my go-to essential oils for stomach bug. But interestingly enough, basil is also considered a great option for vertigo. When we’re dealing with nausea and vomiting, dizziness is often right there with it. Basil can balance your nerves as it calms your stomach – it’s definitely one of the best essential oils for nausea and dizziness (14).
To top it off, basil is also very helpful for controlling migraines, so it can help you limit that cause of nausea as well.
Note: This is not one of the essential oils for nausea in pregnancy. It’s one to avoid from pregnancy through breastfeeding.
The clean and woody fragrance of juniper berry is our next essential oil for nausea. Juniper is an all-around stomach soother – it can help with gas, heartburn, loss of appetite, bloating, and of course, nausea/vomiting. That’s because it works well to make sure there’s a proper amount of bile and other gastric juices in your stomach (15)
Plus, juniper berry is considered an antispasmodic, meaning it will help calm the spasms of your gut when you’re vomiting, making it one of my favorite essential oils for stomach bug (16).
Juniper berry is also calming, which will help bring down your stress levels until you feel good again. For this reason, it’s one of the best essential oils for nausea from chemotherapy.
Be aware: juniper berry is not one of the essential oils for nausea in pregnancy or during breastfeeding.
Coriander is actually another name for cilantro, and its essential oil is the last essential oil for nausea I want to introduce you to.
Coriander is known to be a great support for a healthy digestive system. As long as you are using a very high quality essential oil meant for therapeutic use (like doTERRA), you can actually take a few drops internally after you’ve finished eating your meals to help digestion and prevent an upset stomach (17).
Plus, it’s an antispasmodic, like juniper berry as well (18)! It calms those muscles in your stomach.
How to Use Your Essential Oil for Nausea
Like I mentioned earlier, the best approach to dealing with an essential oil for nausea is actually to combine them. So find two or three of these oils that you feel will help your situation, and use them in one of these ways below:
1 – Inhale
For me, this is one of the most effective ways to use your oils to combat those waves of nausea. Breathing them in can often get my stomach calm enough that I can eat something light or sip some tea, and then my stomach begins to truly settle.
When you’re in the midst of a stomach bug, the last thing you probably want to do is pull out your diffuser and fill it up. Go simple: I will either sniff the oil straight from the bottle or I will put a couple drops in my hands, rub them together, place them over my nose, and breathe deeply.
For long-term nausea (like when you use your essential oils for pregnancy or essential oils for nausea from chemotherapy), you can set up a diffuser. Here are two potential blends.
Essential Oils for Nausea Pregnancy Blend:
- 2 drops lemon
- 2 drops bergamot
- 2 drops ginger
Essential Oils for Nausea from Chemotherapy Blend:
- 2 drops peppermint
- 1 drop juniper berry
- 1 drop basil
- 2 drops ginger
2 – Massage
If you have a little one, you probably rub their tummies when they’re not feeling great – same concept applies to you too! Simply dilute any of these essential oils with some jojoba oil, coconut oil, olive oil, etc. and rub them directly on your stomach.
You can make a topical essential oil for nausea blend depending on what’s causing your nausea, and you can experiment with different combos. A good place to start is with a base of peppermint and ginger (say 5 drops each).
To make it really easy on yourself, you can purchase doTERRA’s premade rollerball, filled with their DigestZen blend. It’s been a lifesaver for us on many occassions.
A combo of peppermint, ginger, coriander, and other essential oils for nausea and dizziness join with their fractionated coconut oil to give you relief when you need it – without any hassle. This topical essential oil for nausea is one of my personal favorites.
3 – Sip
Lemon, peppermint, and ginger oils can be added to hot water, but you’ll need to mix the essential oil with honey first to emulsify and then mix into the water. Try one essential oil for nausea at a time. You may be able to work your way up to two, but it’s always best to start slow. When ingesting, be sure to use high quality essential oils.
When it comes to essential oils for stomach bug in particular – as well as a hangover – sipping these oils is a double win: you rehydrate your body and soak up the stomach-calming benefits.
Your Best Essential Oil for Nausea
Each essential oil for nausea has a unique ability to bring relief – now all you have to do is choose your oils, prepare your blends, and have them all ready for the next time you start to feel nauseous.
Now it’s your turn to talk to me. I’d love to hear from any of you who have tried an essential oil for nausea. What are you favorite essential oils for nausea in pregnancy? Do you have experience with essential oils for nausea and diarrhea? What about essential oils for nausea from chemotherapy? Let me know in a comment below!
- 1.David, Charlest Patrick. (2018) Stomach Flu (Gastroenteritis) Symptoms, Signs, Treatment Remedies, Diet. MedicineNet. Retrieved from: https://www.medicinenet.com/gastroenteritis_stomach_flu/article.htm#what_is_the_stomach_flu_gastroenteritis
- 2.WebMD (2018) Motion Sickness – Topic Overview. Retrieved from: https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/ear-infection/tc/motion-sickness-topic-overview#1
- International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists, (2013). PREGNANCY GUIDELINES: Guidelines for Aromatherapists working with pregnant clients. Retrieved from: https://naha.org/assets/uploads/PregnancyGuidelines-Oct11.pdf
- Palatty, P. L., Haniadka, R., Valder, B., Arora, R., & Baliga, M. S. (2013). Ginger in the prevention of nausea and vomiting: a review. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 53(7), 659-669.
- Ernst, E., & Pittler, M. H. (2000). Efficacy of ginger for nausea and vomiting: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials. British journal of anaesthesia, 84(3), 367-371.
- National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, (2017). Treatment-Related Nausea and Vomiting (PDQ®)–Health Professional Version. Retrieved from: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/side-effects/nausea/nausea-hp-pdq
- Lee, Y. R., & Shin, H. S. (2017). Effectiveness of ginger essential oil on postoperative nausea and vomiting in abdominal surgery patients. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 23(3), 196-200.
- Organic Facts (2017) 9 Effective Essential Oils for Vertigo. Retrieved from: https://www.organicfacts.net/essential-oils-vertigo.html#list-of-best-essential-oils-for-vertigo
- Lua, P. L., & Zakaria, N. S. (2012). A brief review of current scientific evidence involving aromatherapy use for nausea and vomiting. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 18(6), 534-540.
- Tayarani-Najaran, Z., Talasaz-Firoozi, E., Nasiri, R., Jalali, N., & Hassanzadeh, M. K. (2013). Antiemetic activity of volatile oil from Mentha spicata and Mentha× piperita in chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. ecancermedicalscience, 7.
- Dr. Axe (2018) How to Stop Diarrhea Fast. Retrieved from: https://draxe.com/how-to-stop-diarrhea/
- Safajou, F., Shahnazi, M., & Nazemiyeh, H. (2014). The effect of lemon inhalation aromatherapy on nausea and vomiting of pregnancy: a double-blinded, randomized, controlled clinical trial. Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal, 16(3).
- The Miracle of Essential Oils (2018) 7 Best Essential Oils for Diarrhea & How to Use. Retrieved from: https://www.themiracleofessentialoils.com/essential-oils-for-diarrhea/
- Organic Facts (2017) 11 Amazing Benefits of Basil Essential Oil. Retrieved from: https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/basil-essential-oil.html
- WebMD (2018) Juniper. Retrieved from: https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-724-juniper.aspx?activeingredientid=724&activeingredientname=juniper
- Organic Facts (2017) 13 Incredible Benefits of Juniper Essential Oil. Retreived from: https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/essential-oils/health-benefits-of-juniper-essential-oil.html
- doTERRA (2018) Coriander. Retrieved from: https://www.doterra.com/US/en/p/coriander-oil
- Organic Facts (2017) 11 Amazing Benefits of Cilantro or Coriander Essential Oil. Retrieved from: https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/essential-oils/health-benefits-of-coriander-essential-oil.html
I thought oil and water do not mix. Just adding an EO to water can cause burns to the esophagus, it needs an emulsifier like honey, right?
I’m not pregnant or anything but when I wait too long to eat I get really nauseous and not even a meal or a salty snack will relieve it! Just tried your suggestion of running one of the essential oils on my hands & placing it over my nose while taking deep breaths…. MAGIC .. pure magic. Took maybe about 60 seconds to relieve the nausea! I used peppermint oil! Thank you! This is will definitely be my go to remedy for the futures