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We’ve been hard on our digestive system for decades, and it’s only getting worse. Not only does the food (and drink) we consume play a direct role, but lifestyle factors right down to how stressed we feel can dole out damage to the gut. We know that using essential oils for stomach health can be beneficial, but what if the damage is already done? If you are an adult in our society, chances are, how to heal your gut naturally applies to you! As some of the most intriguing and powerful components of herbal material, essential oils can be used as a tool for gut health to help heal the damaged gut…

5 Major Digestive Health Issues

Sometimes, an individual’s gut can be damaged without their knowledge. Perhaps the bacterial balance is off and the immune system is faltering. Maybe their emotions swing wildly, or cognitive function falters, and knowing how to heal your gut naturally is vital information. The gut is a command post for much of the body, with nervous system transmitters that rival the CNS in the brain and spinal cord. So even if you don’t think you have gut health problems – or you think you have unrelated issues – it’s worth looking at your history, lifestyle, and dietary choices to consider whether you have damaged your gut in any way. For everyone else, you know you have gut health troubles and you need to know how to heal your gut naturally, because it manifests in uncomfortable, or often painful ways. Essential oils for gut health aren’t always the perfect match for every gut health imbalance, but there are definite cases where their use is indicated and even preferred.

1. How to Heal Leaky Gut

Leaky Gut Syndrome is a common gastrointestinal problem that has been gathering a lot of attention lately because research continues to link it to a number of other health issues and diseases. The SAD (Standard American Diet), stress, toxic overload and bacterial imbalance people battle has certainly contributed to the epidemic that now affects millions of people globally, and if you’re one of them, you want to know how to heal your gut naturally.

The Problems with SAD One of the biggest culprits in the Standard American Diet that causes digestive upset is gluten. It’s everywhere! Do yourself a favor and eliminate gluten from your diet. But don’t think for one second that giving up gluten means giving up taste. Mama Z has developed an amazing Italian cooking class that specializes in gluten-free and allergy-free ingredients. Register for the free viewing today!

The gut is tricky to treat because it’s so far down the GI tract so leaky gut is a good one to start off with. The only way to ensure that essential oils can reach the gut is to use an enteric-coated capsule.

  • Peppermint and caraway have been proven to soothe inflammation like no other blend – taken internally. (1) This combination is also highly effective at promoting healthy gastrointestinal motility. (2)
  • Thymol and carvacrol (thyme and oregano) are fantastic for promoting intestinal integrity and immune responses. (3)
  • Additionally, oregano essential oil has been proven to repair the gut lining – thus preventing chemicals from leaking out of the gut. (4)

All these can be applied topically over the abdomen. 2-3x per day. At a 2-5% dilution depending on the oils used and their recommended max dermal limits.

2. SIBO & Dysbiosis

The microbial balance in the gut can be shifted in many ways, usually categorized as dysbiosis. A particularly concerning form of dysbiosis is that of SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth), which occurs when bacteria that should be in the colon are found in the small intestine. Both generalized dysbiosis and the more specific condition of SIBO are connected with other health concerns, including IBS and metabolic disorders. (5) Essential oils for stomach health are indicated for SIBO and other gut flora issues when the essential oil is able to exhibit symptom relief without damaging beneficial bacteria. In 2012, a study analyzing the development of a probiotic (beneficial bacteria in supplement form) found certain essential oils to work well with the formula, creating a synergistic effect of increased benefits. (6) A few years before that, eight essential oils for stomach health  were analyzed for their effects on gut dysbiosis (bacterial imbalance). The findings included caraway, lavender, and neroli as stand-out examples of essential oils that would harmonize well with the beneficial bacteria in the body. (7) These studies demonstrate the excellent ability that these essential oils have to affect detrimental bacteria while remaining gentle on the body and beneficial strains. Further research for dosing and ideal treatment methods of how to heal your gut naturally will be exciting to see! How to Heal Your Gut Naturally with Essential Oils

3. IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome was once considered little more than a non-diagnosis – the blanket term given when doctors essentially had no idea what was going on. Now, we know that IBS not only affects more than 10% of the global population, but that fewer than 30% of those affected will ever make it to the doctor to even seek a diagnosis. (8) IBS is usually managed with diet and medication, but essential oils – especially in enteric coated capsules that can make it past the stomach – have been indicated for symptom control, as well. Although more extensive studies are welcomed, an extensive review conducted in 2008 shows peppermint oil exhibiting significant improvement over placebo, alongside dietary fiber – both of which stood alongside antispasmodic medications in efficacy. (9) To ensure the oil reaches the intestines, enteric coated capsule preparations are indicated by studies.

4. GERD or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

While the “gut” is technically the intestines, we usually use it interchangeably with the digestive system as a whole. As such, health trouble can start as quickly as the esophagus and acid reflux or GERD. This combination problem is related to stomach acids (both too much and too little) as well as a faulty “flap” that should keep the acid out of the esophagus. Acid levels can be affected by lifestyle and diet, as well as bacteria. One way to approach GERD with essential oils for stomach health is to use oils that protect the stomach and improve digestive processes. Ginger fits the bill, in tandem with turmeric, as indicated in a study released in January 2015. (10) The researchers tested antioxidant levels in rats with and without turmeric and ginger essential oils. The oils seemed to increase antioxidant levels as well as reduce damage done to the stomach wall. Culinary preparations would make sense here, providing a digestive system boost to your regular mealtime.

5. Nausea & Vomiting

Within the stomach, nausea is another common problem, associated with a number of ailments as a symptom ranging from unpleasant to debilitating. Anyone who has experience nausea knows that scent has a major effect on how you feel, in either a positive or negative manner. Inhaled essential oils  for stomach health are an excellent tool for managing nausea of nearly any cause. Backing this up with promising research, we see that peppermint and ginger work well together for alleviating nausea. Refreshing citrus oils can also be beneficial, with lemon standing out as helpful for dreaded morning sickness nausea in pregnancy. (11) Aromasticks can be helpful to inhale the scent as needed, or simply open the bottle and enjoy the aroma in moments of queasiness.

Healing the Gut Naturally

We can’t discuss gut health or healing remedies without discussing the importance of bacteria. Totaling more of our body composition by weight than our own cells, bacteria comprise a formidable ally or opponent, depending on the situation. In a journal article describing the importance of gut flora, researchers detailed the “collective metabolic activity equal to a virtual organ within an organ,” created by bacterial populations in the body. (12) If you’re squirming in your seat at all of this talk of bacteria, you’ve probably internalized the “kills 99.9% of bacteria” line that keeps us from caring about our microscopic partners in health. More likely than not, you also have gut damage to heal. Without restoring or protecting the bacterial balance in the gut, remedies and healing techniques will be ineffective or short lived or both. Fortunately, digestive-wellness essential oils are typically safe, and will presumably be used as part of an overall shift toward holistic wellness. Be sure you don’t discount the importance of gut health because it is responsible for a vast majority of your immune function! From a seminal 2008 report: “The gastrointestinal system plays a central role in immune system homeostasis. It is the main route of contact with the external environment and is overloaded every day with external stimuli, sometimes dangerous as pathogens (bacteria, protozoa, fungi, viruses) or toxic substances, in other cases very useful as food or commensal flora. The crucial position of the gastrointestinal system is testified by the huge amount of immune cells that reside within it. Indeed, gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) is the prominent part of mucosal-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) and represents almost 70% of the entire immune system; moreover, about 80% of plasma cells [mainly immunoglobulin A (IgA)-bearing cells] reside in GALT. “GALT interacts strictly with gastrointestinal functions in a dynamic manner; for instance, by increasing intestinal permeability in replay to particular stimulations, or orientating the immune response towards luminal content, allowing either tolerance or elimination/degradation of luminal antigens, or sometimes provoking damage to the intestinal mucosa, such as in coeliac disease or food allergy.” (13)

Promoting Gut Health w/Essential Oils

While these oils carry evidence of benefit to overall gut health and can facilitate gut healing, do use caution when approaching disease states. As we all know, natural products are “not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.” Essential oils for stomach health are powerful and should be treated with the respect they deserve. If you have or suspect a disease or chronic ailment, seek a doctor and professional for advice. With that out of the way, let’s highlight some of the gut healing benefits of essential oils, as backed by science.

  • PeppermintLike its parent plant, peppermint essential oil is known for its digestive remedy capabilities. Peppermint has long been indicated for IBS via enteric-coated capsules. (14) This was revisited in 2013, with coriander and lemon balm mentioned for their effectiveness, as well. (15)
  • ThymeAn antimicrobial by day, gut healer by night, thyme is a superhero in the world of gut health. For SIBO, thymol and geraniol have been shown “effective in suppressing pathogens in the small intestine, with no concern for beneficial commensal colonic bacteria in the distal gut.” (16) Thymol, of course, is the major component of thyme, while geraniol is found in high concentrations in rose oil.
  • LavenderNot only have we seen lavender as effective against dysbiosis, but it is a well-reputed source of anti-inflammatory and healing properties. Additionally – perhaps not coincidentally – lavender has been one of the most effective anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) essential oils, tested as a commercial internal preparation. (17) Whether the anxiety was calmed due to improved gut health or it’s just a convenient double purpose, lavender is a key component of nearly any healing protocol.
  • Cumin – A recent study on IBS symptoms and essential oil treatments evaluated a 2% preparation of cumin essential oil in 57 patients with IBS. At the end of the four week maximum trial, symptoms including pain, bloating, and elimination problems were significantly decreased. Note – the level of cumin in the study was higher than the recommended dermal max (recommended 0.4%), however we can see the benefits this oil can offer. (18)

This, of course, is just a highlight of the digestive oils. Ginger stands out for nausea and initial digestive complaints. Citrus oils are gentle and effective for both digestion and peripheral issues, like anxiety and microbial concerns. If you’re serious about rebuilding your gut, essential oils should be near the top of your toolbox, researched and ready to go.

Now that we’ve talked about essential oils for gut health and oils that can help to heal the gut, we can walk through ways to use DIY essential oil blends for digestive issues. There are dozens of oils and countless blends out there, but a few are especially beneficial for the gut, with several approaches for application and use.

When to Use Essential Oil for Gut Health

Now that we’ve talked about essential oils for gut health and oils that can help to heal the gut, we can walk through ways to use DIY essential oil blends for digestive issues. There are dozens of oils and countless blends out there, but a few are especially beneficial for the gut, with several approaches for application and use. An essential oil is the “volatile” component of the plant, meaning they are released quickly and evaporate just as fast. This little botany tidbit can help you remember that they work especially well for quick results situations. In other words, most essential oils are helpful for fast-acting results, such as symptom relief and antimicrobial effects. This kind of effect matches well with gut health concerns and is amplified as part of a multipronged approach to healing the gut. Diet and lifestyle changes are imperative, and it’s often worth working with a holistic healthcare professional to maximize your natural efforts using essential oils.

Taking a Whole-Body Approach

As we walk through some of the uses for essential oils and gut health, it’s important to remember that you can integrate the essential oils into your whole-body approach to wellness. Suggesting a DIY essential oil protocol or preparation does not exclude other steps toward health and healing. For gut health in particular, a DIY essential oil blend will pair very well with probiotics, an absolutely vital component of intestinal healing and balance. (1) They are also often used alongside digestive enzymes to maximize digestion improvement. An excellent example of early research on the combination comes with lab testing, where animals showed decreased intestinal inflammation with thymol and cinnamaldehyde essential oil components combined with the enzymes xylanase and beta-glucanase. (2)

3 Application Tips

The DIY Essential Oil Protocol for Gut Health includes evidence-based & traditional techniques to counteract concerns like nausea, GERD, IBS and more! EOs can be used in numerous ways, varying based on the oil, individual, concern, and even preference. Here are some ways to use essential oils for improved gut health.

1. Internal Use

Use capsules when you need the oil to make it to the stomach rather than the mucous membranes of the esophagus. If the oil is specifically for the intestines, enteric coated capsules are necessary, which you can find, but they can be pricey. The important thing to remember for capsule creation is that the oils should still be diluted as an extra precaution, and that the capsule shouldn’t be filled only with the DIY essential oil blend for gut health. You still only need 2-3 drops at a time, so most of the capsule should be comprised of the carrier oil. Very small capsules are best. Note: Internal, medicinal use of oils should be executed in proper dosing, with knowledge of contraindications and safe usage. Seek guidance or further education before creating and using capsules, or use a pre-formulated, pre-dosed essential oil supplement.

  • Optimal oils for capsule use: peppermint, clove, ginger, oregano, tea tree, thyme. (Choose 2-3 oils at a time, and mix up protocol every couple weeks).
  • Optimal situations for capsule use: indigestion, nausea, IBS, GERD, dysbiosis, with supervision by an integrative care professional. (Note: Peppermint oil could make GERD worse and is not recommended for this specific condition.)
  • Carrier oil options: coconut, almond, sesame, apricot kernel, avocado, castor, evening primrose, jojoba, sunflower, pumpkin seed, neem, hemp seed, hazelnut, borage seed.

2. Topical Use

The soothing effects of aromatherapy are translated well into massages, and an upset tummy can be eased with a topical application. If you keep a diluted blend or two on hand, you can quickly grab it and apply when needed. Dilute oils to 1-3% of the total volume into a carrier oil of your choice. Favorites include coconut oil, almond oil, jojoba, and avocado oil. Do remember that if the coconut oil is exposed to temperatures below the mid-seventies, it will solidify. Fractionated coconut oil is an option if you’d like it to remain liquid and other carriers are unavailable.

  • Optimal oils for topical use: peppermint, ginger, caraway, coriander, *fennel, anise, tarragon, thyme, or citrus.
  • Optimal situations for topical use: indigestion, constipation, stomach aches, and nausea.
  • Word of Caution: *Fennel oil (Foeniculum vulgare) contains the estrogenic compound Trans Anethole. (3) This raises obvious concerns for people with estrogen dominance and estrogen positive cancer. Also, “estragole, a main component of vulgare has become a cause of concern, as the structurally similar methyleugenol has been recently found to be a potential carcinogen. This has led to the European Union (EU) to allow a new legal limit for estragole of 10 mg/kg in non-alcoholic beverages.” (4)

3. Inhalation

Don’t let a pretty scent fool you! Aromatherapy is powerful, transferring the oil’s composition to your body simply by inhaling it. Inhalation is actually one of, if not the most, effective ways to administer the benefits of essential oils. We are most familiar with diffusion, but DIY essential oils for digestive health can be inhaled much more directly for the person who is experiencing tummy trouble or gut concerns. A couple of drops in a bowl of hot water becomes an instant personal steamer if you “tent” a towel over and inhale. Jewelry or clothing can hold a drop or two for a more lasting personal source to inhale, and aroma sticks can fit in pockets or purses for easy, portable access. The easiest method? Simply open the bottle and sniff!

(Note: It is recommended to avoid hot oils like cinnamon and clove in steam inhalations so as not to irritate the sinus passages.)

Helpful Blends & Recipes

Now that you have a good idea of your options, you can start to connect them for overall health and wellness. Blending the oils first into a carrier oil or honey will ensure proper dispersion and dilution, creating a safer and more effective remedy. For internal use, culinary or otherwise, a pure, organic essential oil is ideal.

Healthy Digestion Blend
  • 10 ml honey
  • carrier oil (coconut is my favorite) : clove, orange, cinnamon, rosemary, eucalyptus, lemon
  • organic essential oils : ginger, fennel, dill, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, citrus, thyme, clove, etc.
  1. Choose a few of the following, and blend a total of 20 drops into 10 ml honey and carrier oil (coconut is my favorite): clove, orange, cinnamon, rosemary, eucalyptus, lemon. Stir 2 drops of this diluted blend into tea or water, or take directly.
  2. Add a drop or two of the following organic essential oils as replacements in culinary preparations: ginger, fennel, dill, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, citrus, thyme, clove, etc.

Nausea Blend
  • 3 drops ginger or 3 drops peppermint
  • 2 drops lemon or 2 drops ginger
  • 10 ml carrier oil
  1. Blend 3 drops ginger and 2 drops lemon and diffuse. You could also blend the same number of drops into 10 ml carrier oil and apply topically.
  2. Blend 3 drops peppermint and 2 drops ginger and diffuse. You could also blend the same number of drops into 10 ml carrier oil and apply topically.

Tummy Trouble Blend
  • 10ml carrier oil: cardamom, peppermint, tea tree, ginger, caraway, coriander, or fennel
  • 1 drop of peppermint
  • 1 tsp of honey
  1. Choose a few of the following, and blend a total of 5 drops into 10ml carrier oil: cardamom, peppermint, tea tree, ginger, caraway, coriander, or fennel. Inhale or use topically.
  2. Blend one drop of peppermint in 1 tsp of honey and consume for soothed and improved digestion, or create capsules replacing the honey with carrier oil.

A working knowledge of DIY essential oil blends can be a valuable ally in times of digestive upset. Take the time to learn about each of these oils thoroughly so that you can add them to your at-home DIY essential oil medicine cabinet and begin to heal your gut.



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Scripture is filled with natural remedies & sacred plants. Study 12 Healing Oils of the Bible for a greater appreciation of God's provision!
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