March 20, 2019
Hands open sterile swab
Wellness Tip

Sniff Alcohol to Reduce Nausea?

by Wellness Letter  

The scent of isopropyl rubbing alcohol may help relieve nausea, according to a study in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, which included 122 visitors to emergency rooms who had nausea or vomiting, most due to infectious gastroenteritis, which includes food poisoning.

Participants did one of three things: sniffed a medical pad saturated with isopropyl alcohol and took oral ondansetron (a commonly used anti-nausea medication); sniffed the alcohol and took an oral placebo; or sniffed a placebo saline solution and took ondansetron.

The inhaled alcohol (with or without the ondansetron) was more effective after 30 minutes than the inhaled placebo togetherwith ondansetron—meaning that alcohol alone was better than the medication.

Previous studies have suggested that other types of “aromatherapy”—using peppermint oil, for example—may also be worth trying if you’re feeling nauseated (though some aromas tend to worsen nausea). Nearly 5 million visits to emergency rooms every year in the U.S. are related to nausea and vomiting.

This article first appeared in the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.

Also see Ginger Ale for an Upset Stomach?