Skip to content


April 24, 2013


It has been my mission to study and teach the many longstanding traditional uses of essential oils and most importantly, from my medical perspective, to document clinical aromatherapy using current scientific literature.
My personal list of topics that I would like to see discussed on this professional forum is long. As a clinical anesthesiologist and clinically certified aromatherapist I will start with the essential oil that I have the most clinical experience in the operating room with ……ginger.

Ginger is an excellent example of a plant that has had an extremely long history of many traditional uses. There is a growing body of ginger oil references including some which are randomized human clinical trials including a strongly positive study using ginger as a treatment in the recovery room for nausea after general anesthesia.

Ginger serves as an excellent example of both traditional use and current C.A.M. integrative therapy. It also serves as an example of the differences in chemical constituents of the essential oils obtained from different species of plants from different countries. There are chemical differences between CO2 extracted ginger oil, which is “hotter” and not actually an essential oil and steam distilled oil of ginger. Basically ginger oils are rich in monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes and the overall constituents and percentages vary widely. Steam distilled ginger from doTERRA smells of citrus. The scent of some oils may be strongly influenced, even determined by a small percentage chemical constituent, perhaps in this case, citral or limonene.

The alcohols, shoagols and gingerols are thought to convey the anti-nausea effects of ginger oils. This is interesting since the various alcohols like menthol, found in the mint family, peppermint and spearmint have previously been shown to have anti-nausea properties. 6-shoagol also has activity on the analgesic neuropeptide, substance P. (Save that thought for the threads on receptors and biomarkers.)
OB/GYN journal articles in the last several years have verified the safety and efficacy of ginger during pregnancy (Smith et al 2004). In my own experience using ginger oil and guided imagery peri-procedurally showed decrease in the incidence of nausea in patients even in patients at high risk for nausea during recovery from anesthesia. This randomized human clinical trial provides proof of principle. Note that a blend of oils, ginger, spearmint, peppermint, and cardamom was also safe and effective.


Aromatherapy as Treatment for Postoperative Nausea: A Randomized Trial.
Hunt R, Dienemann J, Norton HJ, Hartley W, Hudgens A, Stern T, Divine G.
Anesth Analg. 2012 Mar 5.
Background:Postoperative nausea (PON) is a common complication of anesthesia and surgery. Antiemetic medication for higher-risk patients may reduce but does not reliably prevent PON. We examined aromatherapy as a treatment for patients experiencing PON after ambulatory surgery. Our primary hypothesis was that in comparison with inhaling a placebo, PON will be reduced significantly by aromatherapy with (1) essential oil of ginger, (2) a blend of essential oils of ginger, spearmint, peppermint, and cardamom, or (3) isopropyl alcohol. Our secondary hypothesis was that the effectiveness of aromatherapy will depend upon the agent used.Methods:A randomized trial of aromatherapy with patients who reported nausea in the postanesthesia care unit was conducted at one ambulatory surgical center. Eligibility criteria were adult, able to give consent, and no history of coagulation problems or allergy to the aromatherapy agents. Before surgery, demographic and risk factors were collected. Patients with a nausea level of 1 to 3 on a verbal descriptive scale (0-3) received a gauze pad saturated with a randomly chosen aromatherapy agent and were told to inhale deeply 3 times; nausea (0-3) was then measured again in 5 minutes. Prophylactic and postnausea antiemetics were given as ordered by physicians or as requested by the patient.Results:A total of 1151 subjects were screened for inclusion; 303 subjects reporting nausea were enrolled (26.3%), and 301 meeting protocol were analyzed (26.2%). The change in nausea level was significant for the blend (P < 0.001) and ginger (P = 0.002) versus saline but not for alcohol (P < 0.76). The number of antiemetic medications requested after aromatherapy was also significantly reduced with ginger or blend aromatherapy versus saline (P = 0.002 and P < 0.001, respectively).Conclusion:The hypothesis that aromatherapy would be effective as a treatment for PON was supported. On the basis of our results, future research further evaluating aromatherapy is warranted. Aromatherapy is promising as an inexpensive, noninvasive treatment for PON that can be administered and controlled by patients as needed.

A randomized controlled trial of ginger to treat nausea and vomiting in pregnancy.Obstet Gynecol. 2004 Apr;103(4):639-45. Smith C, Crowther C, Willson K, Hotham N, McMillian V.

Antiemetic activity of volatile oils from Mentha spicata and Menthax piperita in chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting. Ecancermedicalscience. 2013;7:290. doi: 10.3332/ecancer.2013.290. Talasaz-Firoozi E, Nasiri R, Jalali N, Hassanzadeh M.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: