Aromatherapy is increasingly used in hospital settings. In new research, aromatherapy was found to help relieve nausea and vomiting after surgery.

Two groups of patients, together numbering 301, participated in the study. One group received true aromatherapy, with essential oil of ginger, or a blend of ginger, spearmint, peppermint and cardamom aromatherapy oils placed on a gauze pad.

The other group received sham aromatherapy, in the form of rubbing alcohol or saline solution placed on a gauze pad.

Researchers measured rates of subsequent nausea and vomiting. The need for anti-nausea medications were compared between groups.

The patients who received the two aromatherapy treatments had lower nausea scores, compared to those receiving the placebo saline solution. Rubbing alcohol had no significant effect on nausea, compared to saline solution. Patients receiving aromatherapy were also less likely to require antiemetic drugs.

The research was published in Anesthesia & Analgesia, published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, part of Wolters Kluwer Health.