If you’ve ever faced nausea, you’ll probably have tried almost anything to get rid of the stomach-churning sensation. And while there’s plenty of science to back up remedies like ginger and mint tea, it turns out you might just find relief in another kitchen staple.
Recently, Dr. Karan Raj (who’s known for sharing his medical knowledge on TikTok) created a video about the topic. He stitched a video from another creator, who was smelling lemon juice from a bag to help with her travel sickness.
“If you want an easy way to help with nausea, [lemon juice] might actually work,” the doctor began the video.
Here’s why (and how to do it):
It’s all in the nose
Dr. Raj begins by explaining that the part of your body that governs your sense of smell (the olfactory system) is also related to the limbic system. And, as he points out, “the limbic system has a role in regulating nausea.”
So, smelling something strong ― like lemon or other citrus juices ― can stimulate the limbic system, “thus helping to relieve the symptoms of nausea.”
On top of that, the doctor points out that the smell of lemon juice can get your saliva glands going ― and as you produce more saliva, you “encourage gastric emptying.”
This means your stomach empties faster, Dr. Raj points out, which can help to banish those nasty nausea symptoms.
“Not to mention smelling a strong scent like lemon can serve as a sensory distraction,” the doctor adds. We’ve spoken before about how biting your hand could distract your brain from a deep nerve itch ― and it seems this is a similar phenomenon.
“You’re overwriting code,” Dr. Raj says. “It shifts your attention away from the nauseating stimuli and redirects it towards the more potent aroma.”
You can hack this brain glitch even further
The doctor says that the mental magic doesn’t have to stop there ― you can teach it to perform in the ways you’d like through something he calls associative learning.
“Your brain can form associations with certain scents, like lemon,” he says So, “if you’ve experienced nausea relief from lemon-scented things once, then chances are, your brain will trigger a conditioned response, which will reduce nausea when you encounter the same scent again.”
Alcohol wipes, which contain strongly-scented isopropyl alcohol, could also work for the task, he adds. Aside from having a powerful smell, the type of alcohol they contain is also linked with nausea reduction.
Well, the more you know (the less you throw??? Sorry.)
Catch his entire video here: