Image source: / africa

Image source: / africa

Essential Oils For Nausea After Surgery: The Research

After undergoing surgery for breast cancer, it is pretty common to experience nausea, usually caused by a reaction to the anesthesia used.  It may be considered common, but it definitely is not nice when you are going through it.  I will share with you a couple of things that will help you through this.

Essential Oils For Nausea – The Research

Fortunately, essential oils are being studied a good deal more and the research coming to light is not only helpful but often fascinating.

One such study caught my eye recently, published in 2013 and titled Aromatherapy As Treatment For Postoperative Nausea: A Randomized Trial 1.  Researchers used aromatherapy with 301 adult patients who were having trouble with nausea in the post-anesthesia care unit of one surgical center.  The patients were given one of these four things on a gauze pad and asked to breathe in deeply three times:

1. Placebo (saline); or
2. Ginger essential oil; or
3. A blend of ginger, spearmint, peppermint and cardamom essential oils; or
4. Isopropyl alcohol

Nausea was then measured again in five minutes. The patients could also subsequently request anti-emetics (drugs which help to control nausea) if they needed them.

The researchers reported that the change in nausea level was significant for the essential oil blend and the ginger essential oil but not for the saline or the alcohol. No surprise!  I feel sorry for the people who received saline or isopropyl alcohol!  Also, the number of anti-emetic medications required after the aromatherapy treatment was significantly reduced.  The researchers noted “Aromatherapy is promising as an inexpensive, noninvasive treatment for postoperative nausea that can be administered and controlled by patients as needed.”

Ginger has been used for centuries for nausea, it is a well-known anti-emetic and quite often the basis for many natural remedies for seasickness. Cardamom is a member of the ginger family and is also considered quite helpful for queasiness and nausea. Spearmint and peppermint have been used throughout history for digestive complaints including nausea.

No Essential Oils? Try Controlled Breathing

If you do not have access to essential oils, one smaller 2014 study indicated that just doing controlled breathing when experiencing nausea after surgery could be as helpful as the administration of peppermint essential oil 2.

Controlled breathing is a fairly specific way of using and focusing on the breath and here’s how it works. Fill your lungs and breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth using a steady, slow rhythm. Try to keep your mouth closed when you breathe in through your nose and as you breathe out, “purse” or pucker your lips (as if you were about to whistle or kiss). This helps to slightly restrict the outflow of air.  Try to make your “out” breath twice as long as your “in” breath. This technique helps to empty your lungs of old air, and to make more room in your lungs for fresh, oxygen-rich air.  You might find it helpful to count to two as you breathe in, and count to four as you breathe out. Try not to hold your breath between breathing in and out.  For some reason this technique helps to relieve some of the nausea after surgery quite well.

My Experience With Essential Oils For Pain Relief, Inflammation

While I did not experience nausea after surgery, I used peppermint essential oil post-surgery to help with pain relief, combining it with wintergreen.  Peppermint and wintergreen are an effective duo for pain relief and inflammation.  I just put a drop or two of each on the area of concern and never needed any of the morphine that was offered me. I considered that a big plus, I don’t do well with drugs and I know many others have that same problem. This might not work for everyone, but it certainly worked for me.

If you are about to undergo surgery, here are links to other articles on my website that may be useful for you:

Your Breast Surgery Recovery: Using Arnica To Minimize Bruising and Swelling

Tips For Surgery: Useful Items To Take With You


1. Aromatherapy as Treatment for Postoperative Nausea: A Randomized Trial –

2. Controlled Breathing with or Without Peppermint Aromatherapy for Postoperative Nausea And/or Vomiting Symptom Relief: a Randomized Controlled Trial –

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