I personally have found peppermint to be very helpful for nausea, and I'm not alone in this. There's been a fair amount of research on peppermint for nausea, including one small study with cardiac surgery patients that showed a statistically significant difference in the nausea scale before and after the first peppermint inhalation. Nausea is complicated. There are many causes to it, so it stands to reason that there's more than one way to treat it. Essential oils with different chemical components target the different causes of nausea. One common cause is the stomach flu, which most of us have experienced at some time in our life. Nausea with the flu is due to irritation of stomach and intestines, typically caused by a virus or bacteria. In addition, any type of irritation to the abdomen such as surgery or obstructions can cause nausea. Other causes of nausea are related to metabolic changes, such as pregnancy and pain. Nausea can also be the result of issues involving the central nervous system, such as head injuries or disease, migraines, anxiety, and sensory issues. Some medications and chemotherapy can also cause nausea. When the Chemoreceptor Trigger Zone, CTZ, and vomiting center in the brain are stimulated by natural chemicals produced in the body, or administered products such as medications or chemotherapy, nerve impulses react. You become aware of the nausea, the diaphragm and abdominal muscles begin to react in reversed peristalsis or as we know it, vomiting. Chemoreceptors are also in the digestive tract. Some essential oils have therapeutic properties that help with nausea. These include, antispasmodic essential oils that inhibit stomach and intestinal spasms. Carminative essential oils that help reduce or prevent formation of intestinal gas, and essential oils that are thought to calm the gut. Antispasmodic essential oils include ginger, peppermint, Roman and German chamomile, sweet orange, and mandarin. This course includes peppermint, Roman chamomile, and sweet orange. Carminative essential oils, which means they help reduce or prevent formation of intestinal gas, include cardamom, Roman and German chamomile, ginger, peppermint, spearmint, and fennel. Of this group, we'll cover Roman chamomile, peppermint, and spearmint in the course. Finally, essential oils that are thought to calm the gut include Roman chamomile, lavender, and lemon. When using essential oils for a patient experiencing nausea, vomiting or other gastrointestinal upset, consider how different oils may provide comfort. Some clinical settings use prepared blends that include essential oils with different therapeutic properties aimed at helping the different causes of nausea. One of the hospice facilities I worked with used an inhale blend of peppermint, ginger, and lemon. This blend includes essential oils that are antispasmodic, carminative, and calming. It also has a wonderful aroma, something to consider when people are nauseated. Another essential oil commonly used in the clinical setting and in blends is spearmint. Using a blend creates a distinct aroma that won't necessarily be identified with one product after patients complete their treatment. This is especially useful for patients who are receiving chemotherapy. Why is this important? Think back to the beginning of this course when we discussed how smells can elicit an emotional response. Using a blend may prevent someone from associating a specific smell such as peppermint with treatment of nausea during an emotional difficult time in their life such as cancer treatment. The direct inhalation method is typically used for treatment of nausea, and we know inhalation is the quickest way for essential oils to have a therapeutic effect. Using a topical application for nausea isn't necessarily incorrect as it might provide relief with the light abdominal massage. Remember, they will also be receiving therapeutic effect of inhalation at the same time. It just might not be as quick of a response. You can use essential oils to treat nausea for a variety of patients and clinical settings including oncology and surgery. You can also use them with patients who experience nausea related to medications, anxiety or pain. I'll remind you again that we don't want to think of using essential oils in place of medications. But interestingly, some studies have shown that people use fewer anti-medications when essential oils are added to their treatment regime. Let's check your knowledge of therapeutic properties. Essential oils may provide relief from vomiting and other GI discomfort due to therapeutic actions that are antispasmodic, carminative, and calming to the gut. It's a good idea to consider using essential oil blends that include all these actions, and especially for patients receiving chemo to avoid future negative emotional responses related to one specific smell. Now that you have an idea on how essential oils may be helpful for nausea, be sure to read the Managing Nausea with Essential Oils to help you think through a patient assessment. The Essential Oils for Nausea Research Guide features summaries of a few studies that have been done using essential oils for nausea.