In this guest blog, I welcome Louisa Pini, a qualified clinical aromatherapist to share with you safe advice on how to use essential oils to help your digestion. Her products have won several awards and there’s not much she doesn’t know about using essential oils. So listen up…
According to Dr Anton Emmanuel, consultant gastroenterologist at University College Hospital in London around 4 in 20 people can have at least one digestive symptom at any one time. The most common include constipation or diarrhoea, indigestion, stomach ache and heartburn. All too often these are lumped together under the label IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and medication is readily prescribed to deal with the symptoms rather than the cause.
For external use only
In this blog I’d like to explain how you can use aromatherapy oils to support your digestive health. I’d like to emphasise from the outset that I will not be promoting the use of taking essential oils internally. Consuming essential oils can have serious toxic consequences and there are much safer and more effective ways of using them, which I will explain later.
Stress & digestion
Stress has a direct impact on our digestive system. In medical terms, when your body is under stress it is taking the fight or flight response; the basic primitive response to prepare you to fight or run. Hormones including cortisol are released into your bloodstream which increase the heart rate, make you breathe faster and digestion is halted.
However, when you don’t have the chance to react by running or fighting, these hormones remain in your body and can have a long term negative impact on your health. This will continue unless you can stimulate your body’s relaxation system.
The good news is that certain aromatherapy oils are excellent at inducing relaxation and relieving anxiety. I absolutely love it when I have an aromatherapy client on the couch whose stomach starts gurgling during the massage; it’s often a sign that the body is relaxing.
My top 4 essential oils for relaxation
Ylang Ylang acts on the parasympathetic nervous system and slows your heart rate and breathing which in turn can help to lower blood pressure. It does the opposite to adrenaline. When everything is racing and you feel panicked or anxious, you can’t switch off your mind, pop 3-5 drops of this into your oil burner or diffuser or put just one drop onto a tissue and take a few deep slow breaths.
Ylang Ylang is not for everyone though as it does have a sweet and heady scent. A lovely citrus oil that can reduces its sweetness is Bergamot. This gentle oil has a lovely fresh and lightly citrus fragrance. Often when we feel stressed or under pressure we can become depressed.
In the Complete Aromatherapy Handbook, Suzanne Fischer-Rizzi describes bergamot wonderfully when she says “…it uplifts and refreshes the spirit. The gentle fragrance, like a bouquet of flowers evokes joy and warms the heart”.
Lavender has wonderful sedative properties and is recommended to help you sleep. It has a calming and soothing scent and a study in Turkey revealed that lavender essential oil increased quality of sleep and reduced level of anxiety in patients.
An alternative to lavender with powerful sensory soothing properties if you are feeling frazzled is Neroli, an oil from the orange flower or blossom. A gentle and fresh scent, also well known for its digestive and anti-spasmodic properties.
Digestive & antispasmodic essential oils
Now you have four essential oils that you can use to help you begin to relax.
In the table below I’ve added some oils which are specifically known for their anti-spasmodic properties and some essential oils like Lavender and Neroli are in both columns.
One particular oil that has excellent digestive properties and is anti-spasmodic is Peppermint. A recent study concluded that Peppermint oil is a natural product which affects physiology throughout the gastrointestinal tract and has been used successfully for several clinical disorders. 
|Oils for relaxation||Oils with anti-spasmodic properties|
|Ylang Ylang||Black Pepper|
|Lavender||Neroli & Lavender|
A word of caution
Peppermint oil should not be used before bedtime because it will keep you awake. Great first thing in the morning though to wake you up and keep you alert!
Essential oils should never be used neat on the skin. They should be diluted in a carrier oil like Jojoba or Sweet Almond oil.
A diluted blend of some of the essential oils in the table above could be used in abdominal massage to help release digestive muscle spasms including those of smooth muscles in the small intestines as well as aid relaxation.
To prepare a simple abdominal massage blend choose 3 oils from the table above and put a maximum of 5 drops of essential oil into 10mls of carrier oil (2 tsp). Massage your stomach in a clockwise direction only because this is the way digestion flows.
I hope you have found this blog useful and if you have any questions please feel free to contact me. Remember, never consume essential oils and treat them with respect. If you have a serious medical condition, always consult a qualified Aromatherapist before using essential oils.
If you are not ready to blend your own don’t worry because I have created some of the shelf Just Be Natural products that can help to induce relaxation and relieve anxiety that use some of the oils mentioned here are:
Aroma Pulse Point Roll Ons containing blends including Lavender, Ylang Ylang, Bergamot, Peppermint
Sweet Dreams Gift Set lavender theme
Balance & De-Stress Set Ylang Ylang, Bergamot, Rose Geranium
Restore Luxury Body Oil lavender
Organic Essential Oils & Jojoba Carrier Oil are also available
Louisa Alessandra Pini is an award-winning Holistic & Clinical Aromatherapist and Creator of Just Be Natural skincare and passionate health and wellbeing blogger. She practices various complementary therapies at her clinic in Beddington. She is a Member of the Complementary Health Professionals (CHP) and Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC).
Jane Barrett is a registered nutritionist and expert in digestive health helping women & children with digestive issues take control of their health through food. She offers support through meal plans, online groups & personalised 1:1 programmes on Zoom.
Grab your FREE eBook 10 Steps to Happy Digestion here