Nausea (aka feeling sick to your stomach) is one of the worst feelings. Not only does it usually mean that you’re on verge of vomiting, it can also be accompanied by dizziness and lightheadedness, too. There are tons of reasons why you might feel nauseous, from pregnancy or travel to the stomach flu or motion sickness. Fortunately, there are also plenty of remedies — many of which are natural and can be found right in your own home.
Unlike anti-nausea medications, which can have side effects like drowsiness, headache, and constipation, natural remedies for nausea are often free of these symptoms. Natural nausea remedies include using household items, like fruits or spices, in addition to certain wellness practices, like meditation or acupuncture to quell your symptoms. Ahead, experts weigh in on how to get rid of nausea with these six natural remedies.
Natural Remedies For Nausea
It’s no secret that nausea can make you feel pretty crummy. But these natural remedies, including lemon, peppermint oil, a cold compress, and more can get you back up and running without the use of anti-nausea medications.
Smelling lemon aroma can definitely improve nausea for some people, says Alexa Mieses Malchuk, MD, MPH, district medical director and primary care physician at One Medical. But here’s the thing — no one knows exactly why.
The proposed mechanism: Inhaling aromatic substances, like lemon or lemon essential oil (if you don’t have a lemon handy), sends signals directly to the region of the brain that’s closely related to the systems that control memory, emotions, hormones, sex, and heart rate, Dr. Malchuk explains. “These neurological messages get sent almost instantaneously and may contribute to [a] hormone release that causes a calm state,” she says.
Basically, your brain gets distracted. “The smell of the lemon can potentially distract your brain from the perceived disagreements between what you are feeling and what’s occurring around you,” explains Tamika Henry, MD, MBA, founder of Unlimited Health Institute.
But ultimately, research is limited. One study of 100 pregnant women from 2014 found that lemon oil was found to be better than placebo at treating nausea in pregnancy.
“There are a limited number of inhalation aromatherapy studies with the use of lemons for nausea and vomiting,” says Dr. Henry. “Because there are a limited number of studies in the field of aromatherapy as it relates to nausea and vomiting, more research in this field is required.” But there’s no harm in trying it out. If it works for you, great!
While smelling lemon specifically can help you, it’s not the only scent that may help relieve your nausea.
“Consuming ginger extract or ginger root has been found to reduce nausea and settle your stomach. Ginger is a common morning sickness remedy for pregnant people, and can even help folks undergoing chemotherapy,” says Dr. Malchuk. “You can cook with ginger root, or consume it in a supplement, tea or other beverages — even in candy/lozenge form (as long as it contains pure ginger extract).”
Next time you’re feeling nauseous (or preparing for a road trip), consider making some ginger tea or shopping ginger lozenges for relief.
Smelling other essential oils, like peppermint oil, may also help you feel less nauseous. A recent study of 100 people found peppermint essential oil significantly improved nausea. It has also been studied in chemotherapy patients to effectively reduce nausea, as well in as in pregnant people.
Acupuncture and Acupressure
Acupuncture and acupressure are forms of traditional Chinese medicine that may help with nausea. Acupuncture involves inserting fine needles into the skin and “works in a complex way that likely impacts the stomach by decreasing stomach acid secretion, as well as releasing hormones that impact the part of the brain responsible for nausea,” says Dr. Malchuk.
Acupressure, on the other hand, is a kind of massage that uses acupoints (points of pressure) which can help muscles relax, increase blood flow, and decrease feelings nausea and vomiting, per the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
Cold Compress or Cold Air
Sometimes less is more when it comes to addressing nausea. Applying a cold compress or getting some cool air may help reduce feelings of motion sickness or nausea. That’s because when you feel nauseous, it’s a symptom of your body trying to thermoregulate (i.e. regulate your body temp) — and grabbing a cold compress or some air can help reduce your body temperature.
Meditation and Breathing
Taking a mindful approach to fight nausea may also work by doing meditation and intentional breathing, especially if your nausea is caused by anxiety. Meditation has been studied to decrease anxiety and found to be more effective than some antianxiety medications.
“Some speculate that breathing more slowly leads to relatively higher levels of CO2 (carbon dioxide), which can calm the brain and decrease nausea (normally, we expel CO2 with exhalation),” explains Dr. Malchuk.