Essential oils for digestive problems

There’s a lot of research into gut health these days and it is now scientifically proven that we have a second brain, called the Enteric Nervous System (ENS) that lives in our gut. Although our two brains are entirely distinct, they are both wired electrically, which means that our brain can affect our gut health and our gut can affect the health of our brain. This connection is known as the gut-brain axis. Looking after our emotional wellbeing AND our digestive system can therefore help to keep both brains happy, healthy and in-sync!

Balancing the digestive system

Unfortunately, with so much choice and temptation surrounding us, overindulging in food and drink can sometimes be hard to avoid. Occasional overindulgence isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if it happens on a regular basis it can start to play havoc with our system. 

If your digestive system is feeling a little out of sorts there are certain essential oils that can help to support it back to balance. Read on for a range of aromatherapy blends that can help to soothe a multitude of digestive disturbances and get your tummy back on track.

How to use essential oils for tummy troubles

The first thing I want to point out is that we only ever advise using essential oils externally.  When we talk about digestion, we certainly don’t mean that you should 'digest' essential oils (see our ingestion debate from last month’s blog!).  So, how can you safely use essential oils to aid digestion? 

  1. One option is to diffuse the oils into the air around you.  This is more suitable if you are trying to help achieve a longer-term aim, such as eating more healthily or if you have a sluggish digestive system!  Diffusing essential oils for short bursts daily, over a period of time, can help remind your body of what it is trying to achieve and what it should be innately doing.  Mix up to 8 drops of essential oil in water in a candle burner or electrical diffuser and use for 15-20 minutes at a time.
  2. Creating a massage blend, if you have a short-term symptom, offers the fastest way to get essential oils into your system. Use up to 6 total drops of up to 3 different oils (e.g. 2 drops per oil), in 15ml of Grapeseed oil and massage clockwise into the tummy.
  3. Aromatherapy inhalers are also great for emergencies. Pop 5 drops of oil onto the cotton pad inside the inhaler and sniff as required to help ease symptoms.

You can use a combination of all the above options if desired!

So, which essential oils do we use?

Digestive detox

If you’re just feeling in need of a detox after overindulging then why not try this beautifully cleansing blend?  Mix 3 drops Grapefruit, 2 drops Juniperberry and 1 drop Fennel in 15ml Grapeseed oil and use for massage, or use the same quantity of essential oils in your aromatherapy diffuser.

Sluggish digestive system - constipation and flatulence

If you’re suffering from a sluggish system, then chances are your body’s functions need speeding up a little.  A great massage blend for this is 3 drops Peppermint, 2 drops Lemon and 1 drop Rosemary in 15ml Grapeseed oil. Alternatively, you could try using (or diffusing!) Ginger, which covers a multitude of digestive symptoms.

Overactive digestive system and diarrhoea  

Cardamon and Mandarin or Tangerine are great for settling the stomach. Add 3 drops of Cardamon and 3 drops of either Mandarin or Tangerine into 15ml of Grapeseed oil and massage into the tummy with a gentle clockwise motion, so as not to over stimulate.

If you have IBS you could try using Ginger and Mandarin as these are both very calming for the digestive system.

Stomach bugs - aches, cramps & sickness

For those really sudden, acute tummy aches, cramps and sickness bugs, it’s Ginger all the way.  Try 2 drops Ginger, 2 drops Chamomile and 2 drops Cinnamon in 15ml Grapeseed oil and massage gently into your body.  Inhale the scent and breathe through the sensations. 

If it’s just nausea, try popping 3 drops of Mandarin and/or Tangerine on a cotton pad and inhale the scent for up to 10 minutes at a time. You can also pop the oils in an inhaler if you have one to hand.

Building immunity for the stomach

If you’ve suffered regularly with digestive problems, then why not try and build your immune system in general?  Try adding 2-3 drops each of Sweet Orange, Clove and Juniperberry to a daily diffusion blend – this is really great for aiding the immune system after you’ve had a digestive issue.

Supporting healthy eating

If you’re striving for a more balanced diet, but struggle to curb those cravings, pop 3-5 drops of either Peppermint or Grapefruit essential oil into an aromatherapy inhaler and sniff each time you get a craving for something unhealthy. This is a great way of curbing cravings and supporting you back to balance.

Want a quick and easy solution?

If you don’t want to buy lots of different oils to make your own blends why not try our Digestion pure essential oil blend with Cardamon, Dill, Cornmint, Bergamot Mint and Tangerine. This has been expertly formulated to soothe a whole host of tummy troubles including bloating, constipation, cramps, diarrhoea, flatulence, heartburn, indigestion, IBS and nausea. A fantastic all-rounder to have on hand for whenever the need arises! 

Remember – there are infinite possibilities, so get creative

Whilst we have provided some ideas of essential oils that can support digestion, there are plenty more.  Don’t forget, when addressing digestive issues, you can get creative with the oils you like and make your own blends!  Why not buy a range of the essential oils listed above and have a play around, or research some of your other favourites to see if they have digestive properties too?  Remember the gut-brain axis, as emotionally soothing essential oils could also be useful, particularly if you think your tummy troubles are nerve-related.  With aromatherapy, it is important to remember that your body innately knows what it needs to balance itself.  I always advise people to follow their noses and select the oil scents they love - you can’t go wrong if you do!

Nicole Barton
Consultant Aromatherapist

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