Essential Oils for IBS Symptoms
Over the past few years, I’ve begun using essential oils to manage more of my health symptoms. I started out using a blend containing peppermint, eucalyptus, lemon, and tea tree when I had a respiratory infection. The oil blend helped clear my nasal congestion, making it easier to breathe. As I learned more about essential oils, I began experimenting and using them for other health issues and symptoms, including my symptoms from IBS. I love that essential oils have no side effects, don’t interfere with other medications, and are naturally occurring in nature.
Essential oils are volatile liquids distilled from plants. (Volatile liquids are those that quickly evaporate at room temperatures.) They are 50-70 times more powerful than herbs. Essential oils provide the properties of the plants they come from, and many essential oils have antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and antiseptic properties. 1-4
The quality of the essential oil is critical
Not all essential oils are of the same quality, and there is no industry or governmental standard. The brand I use ensures all their oils are certified pure therapeutic grade – they test each batch using third-party laboratories to ensure the oils are pure and potent. If you’re using essential oils for anything more than just good smells, you want to get certified pure therapeutic grade.
Using essential oils
Essential oils can be used in 3 ways:
- Aromatically – inhaling a fine mist or vapor of the essential oil
- Topically – placing the oils on the body, which can be “neat” (direct oil application) or diluted with a carrier oil
- Internally – consuming the oil
Not all oils are safe to internally consume. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has designated some oils as GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe for human consumption), Food Additive (FA), or Flavoring Agent (FA).
Managing IBS symptoms
Most research on essential oils in managing IBS has been done on peppermint oil. Peppermint oil is a GRAS oil and may be used aromatically, topically, or internally. Peppermint oil has been shown to alleviate the severity of abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and gas. 5
Essential oils that may help with IBS symptoms
- For bloating: peppermint (topically on abdomen or aromatically)
- For constipation: peppermint, rosemary, lemon (apply topically on abdomen; the massaging movement can also help stimulate bowel movement)
- For diarrhea: peppermint, ginger (topically on abdomen or aromatically)
- For gas: peppermint, lavender, ginger (topically on abdomen or aromatically)
Do you live with any sleep disorders (eg. insomnia, RLS, sleep apnea) in addition to IBS?