Doctor weighs in on viral TikTok video of a woman smelling lemon juice to curb motion sickness

A woman on TikTok has gone viral after she posted a video of herself riding transit with a bag of lemon juice to curb motion sickness.

On Sept. 23, 22-year-old Darcy McQueeny (@darcymcqueenyyy) took to TikTok to share a video of herself holding a resealable bag of lemon juice to her nose, while en route to the Jonas Brothers concert. McQueeny is seen taking the Metro in Washington, D.C.

While several commenters love the fact that she’s using a plastic bag, they’ve also suggested she carry the lemon juice, or essential oil even, in a bottle so it’s easier to sniff.

“Yes. Try finding lemon essential oil and put it in a applicator roller,” @kayleenklassen wrote in response to McQueeny’s video.

“I always pour lemon and lime juice into a water bottle and it always helps! Peppermint oil helps me too,” @shannonleonard29 added.

“You can use those small alcohol wipes you find in a first aid kit. Smaller and less conspicuous,” @thebookhaunt also replied.

This isn’t the first time she’s tried this hack. In a previous video posted on Sept. 2, which currently has more than 1.2 million views, McQueeny is seen holding half of a lemon while on public transit.

So does sniffing a lemon or lemon juice actually work to curb motion sickness? Dr. Joseph Salhab (@thestomacdoc), a gastroenterologist on TikTok, has since weighed in on the conversation.

“There is some truth that sniffing a lemon when you’re feeling sick to your stomach can help relieve nausea and vomiting, but it doesn’t have to be a lemon specifically,” he says in a video he stitched on Oct. 5. “Whenever you deep breathe or inhale an aroma, signals get sent to your brain and this may trigger a relaxation or a soothing effect on the stomach.”

Inhaling an aroma, Salhab adds, can also “evoke pleasant feelings” that in turn, distract from any anxiety, abdominal pain or discomfort you may be feeling.

“The way to do this is to breathe in slowly through your nose, and then hold your breathe for about three seconds, and then slowly breathe out of your mouth,” he says. “You can do this several times until your nausea subsides.”

In 2014, research published by the National Library of Medicine also claimed that aromatherapy, particularly lemon essential oil, is among the most-used herbal oils for women during pregnancy. Considered a “safe drug,” a study found that 40% of women have relied on the citrusy scent to relieve nausea and vomiting, and 26.5% of them said that it was an effective remedy.

According to Krutika Nanavati, a registered dietitian and nutritionist, citric acid, one of the main compounds in lemon, can have a “calming effect” on the stomach by stimulating the parts of the brain that control nausea and vomiting.

“The tangy taste and powerful aroma of lemons have a remarkable distracting effect that can shift one’s attention away from the feeling of nausea,” she tells In The Know by Yahoo via email.

In addition to lemons, Nanavati suggests using peppermint and ginger oil as alternatives.

“Peppermint oil, for example, is known for its ability to soothe an upset stomach and reduce feelings of nausea. Ginger essential oil also has anti-inflammatory properties that can alleviate symptoms of motion sickness,” she added. “Inhaling these oils through a diffuser or applying them topically may provide relief from nausea and motion sickness.”

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