Essential oils are the essence of a plant. They are extracted from the seeds, roots, barks, stems, leaves, or flowers of a plant by a process of steam distillation.
As well as giving plants their unique aroma, essential oils also help to protect them from disease and predators, as well as assisting with pollination which ensures their survival. But the oils aren’t only helpful for plants, they bring us plenty of benefits too.
They have been used in cooking, beauty therapies, and medicines for many years. Essential oils are also widely used in aromatherapy practices, and they are very effective for this purpose as once inhaled, they can easily reach the part of the brain which governs emotion, and mood, via the smell receptors in the nose. This makes them ideal for use for mood-related conditions such as anxiety and depression. Some essential oils are stimulating and some are relaxing.
There are over 3000 known essential oils, and their composition varies depending on how they are harvested, what time of year it is, and how they are processed. All these factors impact on the purity of an oil. Oils can be used alone or as part of a blend, depending on the desired benefits of the user.
How essential oils are used
Essential oils are absorbed quickly by the smell receptors in the nose and travel to the limbic system of the brain, which governs mood, emotion, and memory. This makes some oils effective for boosting mood, while others are used for calming purposes. There are many reports of oils being effective in the treatment of conditions like anxiety and depression. Oils can be put into a diffuser so they disperse throughout a room, or they can be inhaled directly from a handkerchief or from the bottle. If you mix the oils with water, they make a good room spray or linen spray. They are also very effective for cleaning household surfaces like toilets, showers, and kitchen worktops.
Essential oils can quickly penetrate the skin. They are widely used in massage, and when diluted with a carrier oil, they can be dispersed in the body more easily and bring about considerable local or systemic benefits. Always do a patch test on the skin of your upper arm to check for sensitivity, and start with a small amount of oil at first. Never apply oil to the ears or near the eyes, or to any areas of sensitive or broken skin. Take care with citrus-based oils as these are known to cause reactions and photosensitivity in some people.
Try adding a few drops of oil to your bath, to a hot or cold compress, or to your favourite body lotion to get the benefits.
Many oils have a long history of use in cooking or baking. As well as giving food taste and aroma, they can add many health benefits to it.
Taking an oil as a supplement gives you a very concentrated dose of benefits, but always be sure to follow instructions on dosage, as some oils can be highly toxic in large amounts. Natural does not mean safe. You can use oils instead of dried herbs and spices in cooking, or you can add them to milk, smoothies, and soups. Remember that a little goes a long way though, and that they are very potent, so start off by using a small amount of oil.
If you have ever felt nauseous, you will be familiar with the unpleasant feeling that you’re about to vomit. Vomiting occurs when the contents of the stomach are expelled through strong contractions of the stomach muscles.
Nausea itself is unpleasant but it usually isn’t a sign of anything serious, In many cases, you can treat it at home.
When to seek medical advice
Occasionally, nausea and vomiting can be a sign of something more serious, and you should get medical advice if:
you’ve been vomiting for more than 48 hours and it’s not getting better
you’re unable to keep fluids down
you have signs of severe dehydration, like feeling dizzy and passing no urine
your vomit is green, which could suggest a blockage in the bowel
When is nausea and vomiting a medical emergency?
Call an ambulance or go to hospital immediately if:
You have sudden, severe stomach pain, which could be a sign of appendicitis
If you have severe chest pain
If there is blood in your vomit which looks like coffee granules
If you have a stiff neck and high temperature
If you have a sudden, severe headache
If you have swallowed something poisonous
Common causes of nausea and vomiting
This is a common condition that is caused by a bacterial or viral tummy bug. It is common in younger children and is often accompanied by diarrhoea. Common contributors to this bug are a virus called rotavirus or food poisoning caused by bacteria. It’s an unpleasant illness, but it usually gets better on its own after around a week. Avoid mixing with others as it the illness can spread very easily.
Pregnant women can often experience nausea and vomiting in the early stages of pregnancy. This is known as morning sickness, but it can occur at any time. It is thought that it is caused by hormonal changes in early pregnancy. It’s unpleasant but often ceases by the 16-20th week of pregnancy. Some women can get a very severe form of nausea and vomiting called hyperemesis gravidarum, which can be very serious. It often requires treatment in hospital.
These are intense headaches that can least for anything from a few hours to a few days at a time. A migraine is a moderate or severe headache which is normally felt as a throbbing pain on one side of the head. Many people also get symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and increased sensitivity to light or sound.
Migraine is common and affects around 1 in 5 women and 1 in 15 men. Migraines usually start in early adulthood.
There are different types of migraine:
migraine with aura: with these migraines, there are warning signs before it occurs, such as seeing flashing lights.
migraine without aura: these are the most common type, where the migraine occurs without warning.
migraine aura without headache: this is also known as silent migraine, where an aura or other migraine symptoms develop, but no headache occurs.
Some people have migraines frequently, up to several times a week. Other people only have a migraine occasionally and even years can pass between migraines.
Motion sickness is an unpleasant mix of symptoms, such as dizziness, nausea and vomiting, that can occur when you’re travelling. It is also known as travel sickness, seasickness, car sickness or airsickness.
Symptoms of motion sickness can include:
an increase in saliva
rapid, shallow breathing
In most cases, these symptoms will start to improve as your body adapts to the conditions which are causing the problem.
Other causes of nausea and vomiting
certain medicines, such as antibiotics and opioid painkillers
drinking too much alcohol
kidney infections and kidney stones
a blockage in the bowel, which may be caused by a hernia or gallstones
chemotherapy and radiotherapy
an inflamed gallbladder
Home care for nausea
Drink plenty of fluids
This is the first step to treating nausea because it balances your electrolyte levels and prevents dehydration from fluid loss.
Studies show that ginger is one of the best home remedies for nausea. You can have ginger in capsule form, you can drink ginger tea, or you can suck on candied ginger. Ginger stimulates digestion and relieves stomach discomfort as well. Nibbling on a piece of raw ginger will help alleviate symptoms of nausea which is caused by motion sickness or after surgery. Drinking ginger ale can help settle your stomach and provide you with the fluids to help prevent dehydration. Studies on its effectiveness have been encouraging, and they have also found that it’s effective for use in cases of pregnancy nausea and chemotherapy induced nausea.
Try sipping on peppermint tea
Peppermint oil is an antispasmodic and it relaxes the muscles in the stomach. This helps to relieve cramping and nausea. Inhaling peppermint oil is especially effective for nausea.
Drink chamomile tea
This calms the system, and eases stress and anxiety, which can relieve nausea caused by stress and worry. Chamomile also promotes healthy digestion and reduces spasms in the stomach and cramps that can accompany nausea.
Try anti-nausea herbs
cinnamon, cloves, and fennel. These can be had in supplement form or made into a tea and sipped on for fast relief. Cinnamon is an antibacterial and antiviral and can help reduce gas and bloating as well as relieve nausea and vomiting. Chewing on a few cloves or drinking a tea made with cloves may help with quick relief of nausea symptoms. Fennel acts as a stimulant to the digestive system and can treat indigestion and colic.
If nausea is due to morning sickness and pregnancy
Speak to your doctor about treatment options, but the general advice is to try eating bland foods such as dry crackers, and to eat little and often throughout the day rather than large meals.
Try mixing a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with some honey and some water and drink it before bed to prevent nausea in the morning.
You can also try mixing some wheatgerm with some milk and drink it before bed.
Don’t try any of these remedies without talking to your doctor first.
What to eat when you have nausea
If you are experiencing nausea and vomiting, you will most likely have to change your diet in the short term until your symptoms have gone and you feel better.
It is recommended that you only eat small amounts of food when you have nausea. If you can manage to keep food down, opt for mild and bland foods like bananas, rice, apples, and toast. These kinds of foods won’t upset your stomach or put any pressure on your digestive system. These foods are also full of nutrients and fibre which will help to reduce the feelings of nausea and the associated vomiting.
If you suffer from nausea, avoid foods that are spicy and oily. Junk foods and snacks high in fat and sugar should also be eliminated from your diet as these burden the digestive system too much. It won’t be so difficult to cut these foods from your diet, as you will most likely have a loss of appetite if you’re nauseous.
If you do vomit, make sure you hydrate properly and drink plenty of juices, water, clear soups, tea without milk, and flat sodas to prevent dehydration. Sucking on a hard candy like ginger can help relieve to the feeling of uneasiness and discomfort during an attack of nausea.
Once the nausea has passed, you can switch slowly back to your regular diet. Introduce fruits, vegetables and eggs into your daily meals and once you’re okay with these, you can move on to meats such as chicken and turkey.
Foods to avoid if you suffer from nausea include:
Greasy, oily, and spicy foods
Milk and dairy products
Raw vegetables like corn, cabbage, onions, and beets
Salmon and sardines
Pork and veal
Fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, cherries, berries, and figs
Ginger essential oil can cure nausea, especially if you’re pregnant or you have just had surgery. Peppermint and spearmint oil can ease headaches, lightheadedness, and vomiting. If your nausea is due to anxiety, use lavender oil for stress relief. Citrus oils like lemon, orange, and bergamot essential oils can help to relax an upset stomach and they can be put in a diffuser or diluted with a carrier oil and topically applied to the abdomen or the temples.
Here are the best essential oils for nausea
Ginger has a long history of being a well-known anti-nausea cure. Ginger ale can soothe an upset stomach and the oil can soothe stomach pains and diarrhoea.
It has been proven to reduce nausea and vomiting both in pregnancy and after abdominal surgery.
Peppermint has a calming effect on the digestive system. It’s one of the best oils for nausea and vomiting, and it can kick headaches and menstrual cramps to the kerb too. Inhaling it is good for calming anxiety which can trigger nausea.
Peppermint oil is especially effective for nausea experienced after surgery or during pregnancy.
Spearmint oil is effective for reducing nausea and it’s safe and gentle to use. It doesn’t have the side effects that come with anti-nausea medications either.
If you get anxiety that makes you feel sick, consider trying lavender essential oil for nausea. It relieves stress caused by worry and anxiety, so it’s ideal to inhale before an important meeting or presentation.
The refreshing scent of lemon is very effective for relieving nausea, and studies have found that inhaling the essential oil during pregnancy can ease nausea. Try it in the first trimester when nausea is most likely to strike.
The sweet aroma of orange makes it an excellent anti-nausea essential oil. It’s also been known to reduce stress, which is great if you suffer from anxiety-induced stomach cramps and nausea. This oil pairs well with lavender, lemon, and ginger oil.
If you’re a fan of orange, you’ll love the aroma of bergamot essential oil. It can be used in an essential oil blend for nausea, dizziness, and lightheadedness. Bergamot’s aroma is both uplifting and relaxing, so you will instantly feel better.
Using essential oils for nausea
To use essential oils for nausea, add them to a diffuser or just sniff them straight out of the bottle.
Another thing you can do is to mix a blend that can be applied topically to the skin. However, keep in mind that essential oils are extremely concentrated and potent, so it’s best to dilute them with a carrier oil to reduce the risk of irritation.
For every 2 tablespoons of carrier oil you use, add 10 to 15 drops of essential oils. Ideal carrier oils include coconut, jojoba, almond, avocado, and olive oil. When you’re feeling sick, rub a few drops onto your temples or stomach.
Essential oil safety
If you have any allergies, always do a patch test of the oil on the skin of your upper arm first. Keep a look out for any adverse reactions. Be careful if you have asthma, as inhaling some scents can trigger an asthma attack.
If you are pregnant, always check with your doctor before using an oil as some are absolutely contraindicated in pregnancy, though aromatherapy with many oils is a safer way of using them than topical application.
Remember that the best way to treat nausea is to treat the cause. Some cases might be treatable with home remedies whereas others might require medical treatment.
Get plenty of rest and keep yourself hydrated at all times. See your doctor if your illness doesn’t improve. If you do want to try any alternative remedies or treatments, see your doctor first, especially if you have an existing health condition or you’re on medication.