Nausea, or the feeling of unease in the stomach typically followed by or coinciding with an involuntary urge to vomit and empty the stomach, is a common affliction with multiple causes. It can be rapid or slow onset, and often comes in ‘waves’, accompanied by feeling hot and occasionally faint or dizzy, and increased saliva production. Nausea itself is not a disease or health condition, but a symptom of another ailment, or an involuntary bodily response to some stimuli, which can be either physiological or psychological. It is form of protective mechanism, triggered by message sent to the brain in response to a perceived threat to the body.
Some common causes of nausea are event or situation specific, such as morning sickness, intense pain, motion sickness, ‘hangovers’, and food poisoning. Often it can be a symptom of another condition, or a side effect of medication. Most of us will experience nausea on a not infrequent basis in our lives, and as it generally tends not to be indicative of a serious health concern, some simple and natural home remedies can be extremely beneficial and great to know.
How Can Essential Oils Help Me with Nausea?
When deciding what essential oils to use to address nausea, it’s important to first identify the likely cause of the nausea, as addressing the underlying problem will be the most effective way to alleviate nausea. It is not always advisable to try and prevent actual vomiting, as often nausea is the body’s way of trying to expel a harmful substance or toxin, in which case you won’t feel better until the trigger has been expelled. For instance, some nausea can be caused by by food poisoning, in which case vomiting is necessary; however, as food poisoning causes inflammation of the stomach lining, essential oils with anti-inflammatory properties, such as may be beneficial.
Most people are aware of the digestive benefits of ginger, it is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory with excellent digestive-aiding properties, and is the essential oil that is most commonly used to address digestive and stomach-related ailments. This isn’t surprising, as ginger root has been used in traditional medicine as a natural remedy for nausea and other stomach conditions for centuries due to its gastroprotective qualities. Ancient Chinese and Indian civilizations used tonics made of ginger root to treat many different health conditions, for nearly 5,000 years! Because of its excellent healing capacities, it became a priceless trade commodity in the Roman Empire. Eventually the spice trade carried ginger, and its magical medicinal properties, across the whole world.
In more recent years, several clinical trials have proven the efficacy of ginger in treating nausea and vomiting, particularly for nausea caused by morning sickness and chemotherapy treatment. An added benefit, it’s also delicious!
Ginger essential oil is actually more powerful than fresh ginger root, as it has higher levels of gingerol, an oily resin and the bioactive component of ginger, and is composed of around 90% sesquiterpenes, defensive agents with significant antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Therefore, if ginger is being consumed for medicinal purposes, the essential oil is far more effective and so preferred.
Ginger oil can be applied topically (diluted in carrier oil), or taken internally. It can also be used in aromatherapy for a sense of generally improved wellbeing and vitality, which can be depleted following episodes of, or prolonged, nausea. Inhaling ginger essential oil has been scientifically proven to be effective in reducing nausea and the need for nausea-relieving medication. Adding two to three drops of ginger oil in a diffuser, or topically applying one to two drops to the stomach, are excellent nausea treatments. If nausea is accompanied by actual vomiting, slowly drinking a glass of water or cup of tea with one drop of ginger oil added can offer some relief and help to settle the stomach.
Other Options to Consider
Whilst ginger is by far the most popular and effective essential oil for treating nausea and associated stomach complaints, and take most of the glory in that regard, there are a number of other essential oils that are also known to be effective for relieving nausea that can also be used, including chamomile, lemon, fennel, and nutmeg.
Like ginger, peppermint is an anti-inflammatory, and excellent for settling the stomach, particularly for food-related nausea; peppermint oil can be consumed in the form of drops, or capsules. Peppermint tea can also be effective for milder nausea.
Next time you experience nausea, instead of reaching for the medicine cabinet, or trying to ride out the unpleasant waves of sickness, try a ginger tea, or inhale or diffuse a few drops of ginger essential oil – you might be pleasantly surprised at how much relief it brings.