With new knowledge of the gut-brain axis, more and more people are focusing on improving gut health. People are looking for ways to achieve and maintain a healthy balance, and essential oils offer one way to support a healthy gut. But which essential oils are good for gut health, and how do you take them?
The Gut-Brain Axis
Insights into the gut-brain crosstalk reveal a complex communication system. This cooperation not only ensures proper maintenance of gastrointestinal homeostasis, but likely has multiple effects on higher cognitive functions. These interactions between the brain and the gut, or the gut-brain axis, show us that the homeostasis of the gut doesn’t just affect digestion. Intestinal functions also include mechanisms such as immune activation, intestinal permeability, enteric reflex, and entero-endocrine signaling.
The bad news is when we have imbalance in the gut, it also affects our immune system, emotional well-being, ability to handle stress, sleep patterns, and overall health. This underlines the necessity of supporting a healthy gut. Maintaining the microflora of the gut is key. Probiotics, fermented foods, and other natural remedies are ways to supplement the friendly bacteria of the gut.
How Essential Oils Promote Gut Health
Essential oils are great for gut-related issues because they do not deplete the delicate balance of microflora. In addition, essential oils do not alter the pH of the stomach like many digestive aid medicines. Rather, they work with the body to maintain balance while easing many digestive complaints. Thus, essential oils frequently ease both acute and chronic digestive issues without the damaging effects on bowel flora that come from the use of antibiotics and other medicines.
6 Best Essential Oils for Gut Health
Long known as a digestive aid in whole herb form, peppermint essential oil may ease stomach complaints related to Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Peppermint can bring relief from stomach pain, gas, diarrhea, and constipation. And it can help promote regular digestion as well.
Cumin is another essential oil commonly used for IBS complaints. Patients report a reduction in abdominal pain, bloating, incomplete defecation, fecal urgency and the presence of mucus discharge.
Thyme & Oregano
The chemical constituents in thyme and oregano essential oils may help alleviate inflammation. In one animal study, the combination of these oils showed promising protective effects on intestinal health.
Fennel is a restorative essential oil for the gut. Studies reveal its benefit for decreasing abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, flatulence, gastritis, and irritable colon. It is also an effective laxative.
Ginger and ginger-infused products, such as tea, soda, and candies, are a known remedy for nausea during pregnancy and other times. Additionally, ginger essential oil may help other gastrointestinal symptoms, including gastric emptying and antral contractions (the contractions which help the process of peristalsis.)
How do I Use Essential Oils for Gut Health?
The answer to this question varies from person to person, depending on your comfort, preference, and goals.
One logical way to use essential oils for digestion is to simply apply them topically over your abdomen. This allows the molecules to penetrate the skin and go straight to the digestive area. Applying topically may relieve minor symptoms, such as upset stomach, mild indigestion, or bloating. For babies and small children, use a small amount diluted with a carrier oil. Apply on location or to the bottoms of the child’s feet.
Sometimes faster relief may be obtained through taking oils internally. Some studies recommend putting oils into enteric-coated capsules. These capsules are designed to pass through the stomach unaffected and to dissolve in the intestinal tract. This is especially helpful for digestion and to improve immune system function. You may also simply add essential oils to juice, water, or another food or beverage.
If you choose to take oils internally, be sure the essential oils you are using are specifically labeled for internal usage.
Many people prefer diffusing essential oils. If you are looking for relief from digestive complaints or wanting to strengthen the gut, this method may be slightly less effective than topical or internal applications. However, you can add the oils to a diffuser and sit close by to inhale the aroma.
What essential oils do you use for digestive health? Comment below and share your thoughts.
Check out this post for more information about improving gut health with probiotics.
Looking for even more essential oil education? Come check out The Club, your essential oil encyclopedia.