The Best Essential Oils for Nausea and Motion Sickness

Nausea is a common medical complaint that more and more medical professionals are beginning to counter using aromatherapy and natural remedies.

There is now plenty of scientific evidence to back up the use of essential oils for nausea. A few proven essential oils for nausea and motion sickness include lavender, peppermint, ginger, and lemon, among others.

How Essential Oils Can Improve Health Symptoms

Essential oils have been used all over the world for hundreds of years to bring relief from everyday health issues, including headaches, nausea, and anxiety.

Primary application methods are either topical using a diluted oil on pressure points or directly applying it to the affected area of skin.

Other popular treatments include air diffusion and steam treatments, where the healing essence is breathed in to provide further relief.

These natural oils are antibacterial and, when used properly, can do things like reduce fevers and eliminate aches and pains.

What is Motion Sickness?

Many people are susceptible to motion sickness due to genetics or pre-existing medical conditions.

The nausea and vomiting that can accompany it are caused by the brain getting mixed signals from the body.

Primarily this happens while riding in vehicles or whenever information relayed to the brain from the inner ear does not match up with what the eyes are observing.

For example, sitting in a moving vehicle can lead to the eyes seeing movement that the body is not feeling, which results in sickness.

How to Apply the Essential Oils for Nausea

Motion sickness can happen anytime, anywhere, but it usually strikes when you are on the move in a car, boat, or aeroplane.

Due to the limited space when travelling, it is good to know that topical application is incredibly useful for treating nausea.

There are also several other options for anyone who finds themselves at home suffering from motion sickness due to illness, injury, or prolonged reaction to a trip.

Air Diffusers

There are several models of air diffusers, but they all work in the same fundamental way.

They have a tank for placing the oil and a medium such as water. One common type is the sonic diffuser, which has a ceramic plate that vibrates at a high frequency when it is plugged in.

This motion breaks down the oil, mixes it well with the water, and disperses it into the air in the form of a light mist. This is then breathed in, and the oils do their work healing the body.

Steam Treatments

The most common way to do an aromatherapy steam treatment is to boil water, place it in a heatproof bowl or container, and add a few drops of your preferred oil.

You can lean over it with a towel over your head to soak up any humidity and let the steam fill your lungs.

Although breathing through your nose can get you some great benefits, you do not want to do that for longer than a few minutes at a time, or it might lead to bouts of dizziness.

Long, deep, open breaths will allow the oil to do its work.

When doing steam aromatherapy, one thing to remember is to limit the amount of time you spend breathing it in. Too much is not healthy for your body’s system. Twenty to thirty minutes is a reasonable limit to how long you should spend per steam session.

Aromatherapy Inhaler

A bottle with a wick in it can serve as an aromatherapy inhaler. You can buy them off sites with essential oil products.

A well-mixed combination of essential oil and water is put into the bottle, and then during trips or when you are feeling motion sickness, you can remove the cap and inhale the oil.

Applied Directly On Skin

When applying essential oils directly onto the skin, you will need to check what rate of dilution is recommended by the distributor.

Oils are concentrated, which means that you may get sick if you absorb too much into your skin.

The safest way to use essential oils in topical treatments is to dissolve them into creams or other oils, which are skin-safe, such as coconut oil.

The exact ratio will depend on which one you are using, but the rule of thumb is to limit the essential oil to approximately 3% of the combination.

Two or three drops for every half-ounce of the mixture will usually do the trick.

If you notice any discolouration, itching, or discomfort at the site, then discontinue your use of the oil immediately.

Allergies are not uncommon with natural ingredients like those used in essential oils.

List of Essential Oils for Nausea

There are several aromatherapy options that have been scientifically proven to help counter nausea and vomiting.

Most of them have been around for a long time, with various indigenous cultures already well aware of their healing capabilities.

All these essential oils for nausea work equally well to quell motion sickness, and you can choose whichever fits your personal preferences.

Ginger Oil

Ginger is an ancient remedy for treating nausea. Even popular culture touts ginger ale as something that can help calm an upset stomach.

Ginger oil has been around for decades as an alternative therapy.

It is the oldest use of essential oils for nausea and recent clinical trials have proven that it does work to lessen or eliminate motion sickness in affected individuals. (Source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12576305/) [1]

It is also highly recommended for treating post-op and pregnancy nausea.

The ginger essential oil can be applied directly into the skin at pressure points or on the stomach. It can also be used in an air diffuser; inhaling the vapors will help lessen nausea.

Ingesting ginger, in the form of candy or tea, can increase the positive effects.

It only takes a few drops of essential oil to help bring these feelings of sickness under control, and for topical use, it must be diluted.

Lavender Oil

Lavender is a very calming essential oil and can help ease anxiety, which might lead to motion sickness while travelling.

You can use it in an air diffuser before heading out for your drive or apply a diluted mixture to pressure points.

An aromatherapy inhaler is also good for lavender oil treatments while you are on the road or in stressful situations, which might cause a stomach upset.

Lemon Oil

In essential oils, lemon oil is one of the go-to for stomach upsets.

It is known to help decrease symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, nervousness, and stomach cramps.

Most people will use this for carsickness by filling a bottle with a roll-on tip with a topical mixture and apply it to pressure points during trips.

The scent and skin application will ease symptoms.

Peppermint Oil

There are studies that show peppermint helps with nausea related to mental and physical distress.

You can use it for motion sickness through inhalation or absorbing topical oils using any of the methods already stated.

Bonus – Fennel Seed Oil

There is not as much hard proof that fennel seed oil is helpful for motion sickness or nausea in particular, but it is anecdotally recognized as an oil that can assist with car sickness.

It can also be mixed with one of the oils mentioned above. Many recipes for motion sickness oils involve mixtures of three or more to increase potency.

What Science Has to Say

There are quite a few high-quality studies that indicate using essential oils to treat nausea specific ailments like motion sickness can be highly effective.

If you are new to aromatherapy or simply want to know more about what science has to say about its usefulness, we have compiled several relevant studies and their conclusions.

A 2014 study by the Tabriz University of Medical Sciences was performed to see if lemon oil could assist with decreasing instances of nausea in pregnant women. They found that it did make a noticeable difference and was able to reduce nausea symptoms. (Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4005434/)

In 2013, King Khalid University conducted a similar study. It revealed that peppermint and lavender oil could be used to make instances of nausea less severe while also providing added energy and reducing fatigue. (Source: https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/234654121.pdf)

Researchers at the Billings Clinic in Montana found in 2020 that peppermint could be used to reduce instances of nausea and vomiting in hospital patients. (Source: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0898010120961579?journalCode=jhna)

A 2012 review of studies involving essential oils used to treat nausea showed that there is reason to believe peppermint oil and ginger oil can treat it. (Source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22784340/)

Other studies have shown mixed or lower-end results that put essential oil use on par with the placebo effect, which means there is still more research to be done on the topic. (Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6494172/)

Final Considerations

Aromatherapy is a useful tool in eliminating motion sickness and general nausea.

There are multiple ways to apply it and a variety of oils at your disposal.

A few key things to remember include the fact that essential oils are highly concentrated doses of natural substances, which can substantially affect the body.

This means that you must be cautious when using them and heed any label warnings.

When in doubt, look up the uses and recommended mixture percentages of your preferred essential oil before using them.