As a Dietitian I’ll guide your through the best essential oils for nutrient absorption and IBS management.
Plus, what does the data really say about essential oils? I’ll discuss that too.
Evidence shows the essential oils were being used as far back as 3000-2500 B.C. in Egypt, Greece, India, Rome, China and Europe. Today essential oils are used all around the world for beauty treatments, relaxation, cleaning, health benefits and cooking.
Let’s dive first into the key ways you can use essential oils. Then I’ll explain which oils help to improve nutrient absorption.
How to use essential oils
Essential oils can enter the bloodstream through mouth, absorption through the lungs or skin. Though if you are using essential oils for anything more than their aromas, you’ll want to get the certified pure therapeutic grade. Ultimately, essential oils for nutrient absorption can be used in three ways:
- Aromatically – Inhaling a fine mist or vapor of the essential oil stimulates any of your more than 1,000 receptors in the nasal cavity. From there, they can affect the autonomic nervous, endocrine and immune systems. When essential oils reach the lungs, they pass from the alveoli into the capillary blood vessels. Once in the bloodstream, they are small enough to pass through the blood-brain barrier.
- Topically – Placing the oils on the body, diluted with a carrier oil such as coconut, rosehip or jojoba oil. After penetrating the skin the essential oils can act locally. They can also act systemically throughout the body if applied to the soles of your feet.
- Internally – Consuming the oil (though remember that not all oils are safe for internal consumption). If an oil has been deemed safe for consumption it’s recommended that you mix it with a carrier oil or healthy fats to prevent oily burps afterwards.
How your body absorbs nutrients
The main role of your small intestine is to absorb nutrients from the food you eat, into your bloodstream. This is done with the help of your gut microbiome – the name given today to the microbe population living in our intestine. Your microbiome helps the body to digest certain foods that the stomach and small intestine have not been able to digest. This microbiome also helps with the production of some vitamins (B and K).
Malabsorption occurs when the small intestine can not absorb enough of certain nutrients and fluids. These nutrients can be macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, and fats), micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), or both.
As result of various factors, your body can come to a point where it struggles to absorb nutrients effectively. This can result in numerous health issues. The best way to find out if this is the case for you (and exactly what you should to do about it), is to consult a qualified health professional.
That said, to satisfy the curiosity around the best essential oils for nutrient absorption and how they help the situation, let’s explore this topic now, below.
Which essential oils are good for nutrient absorption?
Some essential oils may increase the absorption of certain nutrients in the small intestine. However, it is important to note that at this stage the evidence and effect of these essential oils is unclear. Most current evidence comes from the testing of animals which has produced good results. That being said, there is still very limited research on humans. If your body is not absorbing nutrients, these are the oils to be considered:
- Oregano essential oil – promotes digestion by increasing the secretion of digestive juices and balancing out the gut microbiome.
- Peppermint essential oil – assists in digestion as it relaxes the muscles of your intestines, which can also reduce bloating and gas.
- Thyme essential oil – a great essential oil for nutrient absorption as it aids digestion by balancing out the micirobiome in the large intestine and also through promoting waste removal by increasing urination.
- Ginger essential oil – boosts nutrient absorption by stimulate serotonin receptors in the gut which sends messages to the brain. Signals from the brain to the gut play a critical role in maintaining optimal digestive function and reflex regulation of the GI tract.
- Tarragon essential oil – lubricates the intestinal walls to support the digestive process. Able to promote digestion and absorption of nutrients
Essential oils & irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
IBS is a condition that effects the functioning of the bowel. One in five Australians experience IBS symptoms including; upset stomach, abdominal pain, diarrhoea and constipation, distention, gas & bloating, nausea and abdominal cramping. At this stage the cause of IBS is unknown, but
environmental factors such as changes of routine, emotional stress, infection and diet can cause an increase in symptoms. Essential oils for IBS are as follows:
- Digestzen – This doTERRA product contains a blend of oils from herbs and spices such as ginger and peppermint, which have been said to aid digestion and improve stomach discomfort.
- Frankincense – Frankincense essential oil comes from resin of the boswellia tree. Boswllia is highly touted in the supplement world for joint pain and arthritis. Ironically, some of the same people taking boswellia in supplement form still end up using frankincense essential oil frankincense for IBS.
- Peppermint – Peppermint oil has been shown to alleviate the severity of abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, and gas. It can be used aromatically, topically or internally.
- Clove – To reduce inflammation within intestinal lining. This could help to relieve stomach upset and alleviate discomforts by relaxing smooth muscle tissues of the digestive tract to relieve spasms, nausea, gas and bloating.
- Ginger – The root itself has been used in kitchens all over the world for centuries for its ability to reduce symptoms of common stomach upset including nausea, bloating and gas. It’s also known to stimulate digestion, soothe and comfort the stomach.
The use of essential oils as part of a healthy lifestyle may help improve digestion, nutrient absorption and IBS symptom management. That said, more research on humans is needed for greater guidelines around safety, dosage and types. It is important to note that the food & drug administration has not evaluated the statements that these products make and they are not intended to be used as a cure or treatment of disease. Please seek the advice of a professional before commencing the use of essential oils.