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How to Improve Your Digestion Using Essential Oils

Aiyana Fraley
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Hippocrates had it all figured out when he said, “All disease begins in the gut.” Before we get into the essential oils for gut health and healthy digestion, we must start at the beginning to fully understand the importance of our digestive system in living lively, long, and healthy lives.
 
We all want to live a long life, right? But what good is living a long life if the quality is compromised? Read on to learn a bit more about digestion, gut health, and managing stress – all key ingredients to staying healthy before we jump into how essential oils can play a role.
 

The Importance of Healthy Digestion

Digestion starts in our mouth with our salivary glands and continues into the gut as food is broken down in the stomach and metabolized in the intestines.
 
What many of us don’t know is that aside from playing a vital role in our metabolism, our digestive tract is crucial to our immune system. It is here where the body’s own bacteria distinguishes the good from the bad.
 

Hippocrates had it all figured out when he said, “All disease begins in the gut.”

 
If our body’s bacteria – also known as intestinal flora – is out of balance or lacking, we can suffer from chronic digestive conditions like constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, food sensitivities, candida and other conditions of the gut. We would also be more susceptible to illnesses.
 

Balance Your Gut for Optimal Digestion and Overall Health

There are several things we can do to bring balance to our gut, and it starts with what we eat. A good place to begin is eating foods that are rich in fiber – such as vegetables and fruits. Avoid processed foods and flours, and significantly reduce sugar, caffeine and salt from your diet – it will make a huge difference.
 
Basically, you want to think of your food in terms of nutrient density. If the item you are considering is low in nutrients, don’t eat it. For example, french fries versus a baked potato. You’ll want to choose the baked potato.
 
Curious about other ways to maintain gut health? Read this: 5 Ways to Maintain Gut Health + Why It’s So Important
 

Probiotics Are Key to Gut Health

To bring about healthy intestinal flora and allow our digestion to flow smoothly, it is important to look at the foods we eat, our stress levels and our nutrient or vitamin intake. Probiotics are another important part of gut health.
 
Natural weight loss is possible! Check out How Gut Health + Probiotics Impact Weight Loss
 
Probiotics introduce (or increase) the “good bacteria” in the gut which helps with digestion and supports a healthy immune system, but the topic of probiotics deserves an entire article unto itself!
 

Manage Your Stress for Digestive Health

Learning ways to manage your stress is another cornerstone to digestive health. Our stress levels impact our digestion through our millions of nerves that live there. Stress causes us to go into “fight or flight” response.
 
Fight or flight – and stress in general – slows down digestion, decreases secretion of the enzymes needed to break down food, and also causes contractions in the abdomen. The result? Constipation, IBS, diarrhea . . . the list goes on.
 

Can Essential Oils Improve Digestion?

We’ve addressed the importance of balancing your gut, probiotics, and managing your stress as the foundations for optimal digestion. So where do essential oils come into play?
 
For thousands of years, people all over the world have turned to plants for their medicinal properties to help heal the body in a myriad of ways. Today, they are readily available in the form of essential oils, which are made from extracting different parts of these plants from their roots to their bark and flowers.
 

Use These 5 Essential Oils to Improve Your Digestion:

Essential oils can help get your digestion back on track. There are many studies that show the essential oils on this list are excellent choices to bring about healthy digestion.
 
Important to Note: While some essential oils can be taken internally, not all essential oil brands are safe for internal use. Please be sure to check the label first, and if in doubt, avoid using the essential oil internally.
 

1. Peppermint Essential Oil

As an anti-inflammatory and cooling essential oil that can help provide some relief from headaches, heat and cravings, peppermint essential oil also works wonders for our digestive system.
 
Peppermint oil has been found to help alleviate vomiting, flatulence, nausea, diarrhea and provide relief for irritable bowel syndrome. In an IBS study on peppermint oil, 79% of the participants experienced alleviation from severe abdominal pain and the same percentage reported less flatulence.
 
To use this oil, apply topically by massaging 1-3 drops with carrier oil (try coconut oil) to the abdominal area. Depending on the brand, some peppermint essential oils can also be taken internally. Just be sure to check the label on your bottle for appropriate usage.
 
 

2. Fennel Essential Oil

The antispasmodic properties of fennel essential oil have been found to reduce the symptoms of and improve quality of life for patients with IBS. When taken internally, fennel essential oil can help with intestinal parasites and irritable bowel syndrome.
 
A 2016 study on curcumin and fennel published in the Journal of Gastrointestinal and Liver Diseases outlines these findings. Curcumin is found in turmeric and is part of the ginger family.
 
Make sure your fennel essential oil is safe to use internally and look for “internal use” on the label. You can alternatively use fennel topically by mixing 1-2 drops with carrier oil and applying the blend on the abdominal area. Add 1-2 drops in a diffuser for aromatic use.
 
 

3. Coriander Essential Oil

The antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties of coriander provide relief for digestive upset, abdominal pain and spasms, indigestion and flatulence.
 
Coriander essential oil brings about emotional balance reducing stress in the process and along with peppermint, coriander’s anti-bacterial properties have been noted in scientific studies.
 
Coriander can be used aromatically, topically and internally. However, for internal use, be sure to check the label first to make sure it’s safe. This oil does not require dilution with a carrier oil when used topically.
 

 

4. Cardamom Essential Oil

Like it’s relative ginger, cardamom essential oil helps regulate digestion. It’s antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties ease cramping, which is why it has long been used to soothe tummy aches. The stomachic properties of this oil ensure healthy functioning of gastric juices in the stomach.
 
Additional benefits of this essential oil include neutralizing bad breath and soothing irritable bowel and gastritis.
 
This oil blends well with peppermint essential oil and was used in a study published in Anesthesia & Analgesia that determined it along with peppermint, spearmint and ginger significantly reduced symptoms of nausea in postoperative patients.
 
Cardamom can be used aromatically, topically and internally. However, for internal use, be sure to check the label first to make sure it’s safe. This oil does not require dilution with a carrier oil when used topically.
 
 

5. Ginger Essential Oil

Ginger essential oil is extracted from the root of a ginger plant. It provides relief from common digestive conditions such as constipation and nausea. When applied topically over the abdomen, ginger can help alleviate constipation and colic.
 
Studies have found ginger to be a valuable home remedy for acid reflux, belching, bloating, gastritis, gastric ulcerations, indigestion, nausea and vomiting.
 
Ginger can be used aromatically, topically and internally. However, for internal use, be sure to check the label first to make sure it’s safe. When using this oil topically, dilute 1-2 drops with carrier oil.
 

Take Charge of Your Digestion, Naturally

From probiotics and the foods you eat to essential oils and finding ways to reduce stress, our gut health is an all-encompassing pursuit. With a bit of effort and arming yourself with the information you need to make healthy, educated decisions, you can increase your digestive functioning, gut health, and wellness overall – naturally.
 
This article and all included information is not intended as medical advice and does not treat or diagnose. Please consult your doctor for any health-related questions or concerns.
 

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Aiyana Fraley

Aiyana Fraley is a restorative and kundalini yoga teacher and reiki master. Her mission is to educate people on the benefits of yoga, spiritual growth, meditation and self-healing. Aiyana provides yoga wellness programs to corporate offices and leads continuing education courses. Find out more about trainings and courses at on her website Drops of Yoga.

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