Essential oils improve digestive tract health and enhance the digestive process in numerous ways. They can eliminate bacteria and yeast, stimulate bile production, improve liver and gallbladder health, alleviate intestinal parasites, help relieve gas and bloating, and soothe abdominal cramping.
Citrus oils, spice oils, and mint oils are the most well-known essential oils for improving digestion, but there are a few others that don’t fall into those categories.
Citrus Essential Oils
1. Lemon Essential Oil
Lemon (Citrus limonum): Aspirin is the most widely used anti-inflammatory drug on the market, and along with it comes side effects and damage to the lining of the intestines. Lemon essential oil has been shown to have cell protective actions against the aspirin-induced toxicity. In the referenced study, it reversed the damage caused by the aspirin. (1)
The dilution rate for lemon essential oil is 1-2% (9-18 drops per ounce of carrier oil), based on age and sensitivity. This is a suggested maximum use for adult healthy skin. For those young or elderly with more sensitive skin, I would suggest .5-1%. Use a carrier such as olive oil, sweet almond, jojoba, or vegetable oil and blend in your oils. Using a small amount, rub on the belly counterclockwise.
Repeat every 3-4 hours as needed to help calm the belly. If irritation occurs, stop immediately. Lemon, like most citrus oils, is phototoxic. Furanocoumarins (FCs) are found in most citrus oils in relatively small amounts, but enough to become activated in UVA light and cause irritation on the skin. (2) For this reason, lemon essential oil should not be used in the sun or in tanning beds unless it is in a wash off product.
2. Orange Essential Oil
Orange essential oil (Citrus sinensis) alleviates constipation and diarrhea, soothes irritable bowel syndrome, reduces nausea and vomiting, calms muscle spasms, and relieves gas and bloating. It also helps improve your appetite by aiding in the digestive process.
It can be used to alleviate bacterial and fungal infections like candida yeast overgrowth in the gut, too. Most of these issues are resolved internally and under a guided clinical aromatherapist. However, through dermal absorption, we can find symptom relief by using a solution of 1 to 2% (9-18 drops per ounce) in a carrier oil and massaging the abdomen area counterclockwise.
We suggest repeating the process every few hours until you get symptom relief. If a reaction such as itching or red raised skin occurs, stop immediately. Orange peels, where the essential oil is extracted from, showed considerable activity against Listeria monocytogenes, which occurs in the gut. (3) You could also diffuse during mealtime. Wild or sweet orange essential oil is not photosensitizing.
3. Bergamot Essential Oil
Amongst many other components, Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) essential oil contains upwards of 36% of the component (constituent) d-limonene. Being a solvent of cholesterol, d-limonene has been used clinically to dissolve cholesterol-containing gallstones. Because of its gastric acid neutralizing effect and its support of normal peristalsis, it has also been used for relief of heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux (GERD). (4)
Bergamot oil also kills bacteria. BEO has been proven to be a natural technological hurdle against Listeria monocytogenes and other strains of bacteria. (5) This citrus oil will also help relieve flatulence and painful digestive issues and helps to increase the appetite. Blend 1-2% (9-18 drops) of bergamot with 1 ounce of carrier oil and gently massage abdomen in a clockwise motion.
Expressed Bergamot essential oil is phototoxic, not distilled. Distilled or FCF (furocoumarin free) is best to use. Older citrus oils tend to oxidize easier. You could also diffuse during mealtime.
Herb and Spice Essential Oils
1. Anise or Aniseed Essential Oil
Used with direction, anise (Pimpinella anisum) essential oil can assist with colic, indigestion, flatulence, nervous stomach, d