Have you had ongoing stomach issues but are yet to get to the cause of the problem? Leaky gut can cause stomach discomfort, as well as a range of other symptoms. Essential oils expert Dr. Z gives us an insight into what the term 'leaky gut' means as well as the best essential oils to heal our tummies.
1. In A Nutshell, What Is Leaky Gut?
Scientists define leaky gut as a malfunction of the intestinal tract junctions within the epithelial lining of the gut. This is why it's commonly referred to as "intestinal permeability." Essentially, the gut (i.e. the "intestines") is lined with a single layer of cells that act as a physical barrier protecting the body from harmful pathogens, undigested food particles and toxins. When this barrier gets broken down it becomes "permeable", which means that particles that normally don't pass through can, and often do so. When this happens, they enter the bloodstream and a whole slew of problems ensue.
2. What Symptoms Tend To Indicate That Someone Has A Leaky Gut?
This is a good question because there are no standard diagnostic criteria that doctors use to determine if someone has leaky gut or not. Most natural health experts have observed, however that people suffering from leaky gut often experience these 9 signs and symptoms:
- Autism and learning disabilities like ADHD
- Autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto's and lupus
- Brain fog, memory issues and mood disorders
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Chronic migraine
- Food allergies and unexplained food sensitivities
- Nutritional deficiencies and malabsorption
- Skin conditions such as unexplained rashes and eczema
- Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
3. What Are Your Top 3 Essential Oils For Soothing And Nourishing The Gut?
4. How Do These Essential Oils Actually Work To Help Heal The Gut?
Since stress is such a known cause, aromatherapy plays a key role in the prevention and treatment of leaky gut. Oils like lavender, chamomile and bergamot are global favorites to help balance emotions, enhance mood and help the body combat the stressors of the day. Additionally, these 3 essential oils that can help people suffering from leaky gut.
Cardamom - Exceptionally soothing, it is related to the ginger family - which may explain why it has such powerful gut health benefits. Due to its anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties, cardamom oil is known as a gastro-protective agent; primarily because it can alter smooth muscle contraction in the GI tract. Research has shown that it is so effective at protecting the stomach wall that it can even prevent gastric lesions induced by ethanol and aspirin in rats!
Peppermint – Used around the globe for centuries to balance gut health, peppermint essential oil is a digestive remedy for many conditions. Double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trials have shown that literally 80% of people suffering from IBS, for example, can enjoy significant relief by simply taking an enteric-coated capsule with a few drops of peppermint 3-4 times per day, 15-30 minutes before meals. Peppermint oil also has profound effects at eradicating E. coli and other harmful pathogens that can cause SIBO, which is a trigger for leaky gut.
Thyme – Known for its antimicrobial ability against antibiotic-resistant bacteria like MRSA, thyme is a superhero in the world of gut health. For people suffering from SIBO, it has been uncovered that the two key components of thyme oil - thymol and geraniol - are “effective in suppressing pathogens in the small intestine, with no concern for beneficial commensal colonic bacteria in the distal gut.”
5. What Are Some Ways That People Can Incorporate These Oils Into Their Everyday Lifestyles?
Essential oils are volatile organic compounds that are extracted from the bark, stems, leaves, flowers and roots of plants primarily by steam distillation and cold pressing. Traditionally, there are three primary ways to use oils (aromatically, topically, internally) and each technique provides a cornucopia of benefits as essential oils.
Best oils for internal use: peppermint, clove, ginger, oregano, thyme. Put 2-3 drops in a capsule, and take 30 minutes before meals. Be sure to mix up the protocol every couple weeks.
Ideal conditions for internal use: indigestion, nausea, IBS, GERD, dysbiosis. Supervision by an integrative care professional is recommended.
Best oils for topical use: peppermint, ginger, caraway, coriander, fennel, anise, tarragon, thyme, citrus. Blend 4 drops of essential oil for 1 oz of carrier oil to start off with. Apply over areas of concern up to 3 times daily.
Optimal conditions for topical use: indigestion, constipation, stomach aches, nausea.
Carrier oil options: coconut, almond, sesame, apricot kernel, avocado, castor, evening primrose, jojoba, sunflower, pumpkin seed, neem, hemp seed, hazelnut, borage seed.
Best oils for inhalation: citrus, ginger, fennel, peppermint, clove, cinnamon…or any!
Ideal condition for inhalation: nausea, stomach ache.
6. When Can People Expect To Notice Changes In Their Gut Health, And What Else Can They Do To Help Improve Their Symptoms?
Within minutes. For people suffering pain, gas and bloating, symptoms can start to decrease within days and even hours of using essential oils. Although there are no peer-reviewed reports of people being "cured" of leaky gut at the hand of essential oil therapy, there are an increasing number of people online who claim that it has.
Essential oils are fantastic remedies, but are not end-all magic cures. Leaky gut is a complicated disease that requires significant lifestyle changes, and people that are determined to overcome it holistically need to focus on:
- Eliminating all inflammatory foods like sugar, grains, dairy and processed foods
- Regular exercise according to their body type personality
- Stress-reduction techniques like Tai Chi, prayer and meditation
- Incorporate a diet full of probiotic-rich, fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, and kvass
At the end of the day, people that utilize aromatherapy, but don't change other key lifestyle habits are taking 1-step forward and 2 steps back.