By Dr. Eric Zielinski
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The path to a man’s heart may lead through the stomach, but the path to anyone’s wellness moves through the gut. Immune, cognitive, emotional, and (of course) digestive issues all stem from the condition of the gut. Therefore, the essential oils that protect and heal the digestive tract can be viewed as partners for whole-body wellness, from the inside out.
A Healthy Gut is the Key to Wellness
Evidenced by our overuse of antibiotics (we’ll get to that in a little bit), the idea that bacteria isn’t all, or even mostly bad is a major paradigm shift for this generation. Who among us doesn’t expect a commercial disinfectant or hand sanitizer to kill 99.9% of bacteria?
All the while, our bodies have been carrying, partnering with, and generally functioning well because of bacteria. Within this symbiotic relationship, bacteria form a core component of our body’s basic functions – including digestion and immune responses.
This understanding should always be a precursor to wellness formulations, because a remedy, medication, or even diet and lifestyle function should always prioritize the bacterial balance in the gut above all else.
When it comes to healing your gut, essential oils can function as symptom relief, prevention, protection, and healing. And much like our mutually beneficial relationship with bacteria, pairs and blends of oils work well together to enhance their respective actions.
Top 5 Essential Oil Pairs for Gut Health
Thyme & Rose
An imbalance in gut bacteria – termed dysbiosis when it becomes prominent – is a serious health concern. Not only does the overgrowth need to be curbed, but one must accomplish this without damaging beneficial bacteria. Thyme and rose essential oils, as sources of thymol and geraniol, have this kind of gentle yet effective action that is so important to maintain.
Cardamom & Clove
Different yet complementary, we think of cardamom and clove when creating spice blends, especially in the winter season. Their excellent scent pairing is that much better when we consider their benefits. Cardamom, as part of the ginger family, is a protective digestive wellness oil with anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic actions. Clove is protective in its own right as an antimicrobial that can help to battle problems with Candida. We aren’t the only ones with our eyes on clove – preparations are underway for an over-the-counter antifungal treatment centered around clove oil.
Peppermint & Ginger
No digestive wellness or gut health “stash” is complete without these two oils. Together, they form an easy, effective inhalation treatment for nausea. As a side effect of countless gut and digestive concerns, anti-nausea benefits alone make a winning combination. But peppermint and ginger have even more to offer. Peppermint has been extensively studied for its efficacy against the all too common irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Ginger is considered to be protective against ulcers. If you can only get one pair of essential oils for gut health, start with a good peppermint and ginger.
Tea Tree & Oregano
Again, we’ll tackle the antibiotic/antibacterial monster in a moment, but tea tree and oregano must be mentioned for their antimicrobial powerhouse benefits. Harsh, toxic, and typically synthetic antibacterial lab concoctions are a threat to our health. But used properly, natural antimicrobials offer a solution.Any household, workplace, or play-place knows that illness can spread like wildfire with just a cough or sneeze here and there. Tea tree and oregano essential oils are potent antimicrobials, especially antibacterial, that can maximize your DIY cleaning solutions without risking your family’s health. When we spot the connection between bleach-laden lives and weakened gut bacteria, using natural cleaners to improve gut health doesn’t seem so far fetched.
Fennel & Tarragon
Both fennel and tarragon are considered to be digestive stimulants when used as a full herb. As essential oils, they retain the reputation. From different plant families, the shared soothing and anti-spasmodic effects likely have shared estragole to thank.While we quickly associate these oils with their culinary herbal parent plants, it’s important to note that estragole has some controversial, potentially toxic effects when taken internally. Dosage is extremely important, to the point that inhalation and limited topical use is preferred.
The Antibiotic Snowball and its Impact on Gut Health
With all of that talk about protecting bacteria and the importance of its balance, why would we include antibacterial oils – and is there ever a time for antibiotics?
The truth is that antibiotics can be lifesaving treatments when they aren’t overused, and that a good antibacterial and antiviral spritz might just stop your kids from spreading that tummy bug to each other. A little well-timed fight against pathogenic bacteria is not a bad thing.
The problem arises when we systematically and consistently distance ourselves from bacteria.
Growing C-section rates bypass the initial colonization of healthy bacteria that the birth canal is intended to provide. Antibiotic overuse for things like ear infections risk internal balance in childhood and beyond. The hand sanitizer craze keeps our immune systems from “practicing” and staying sharp. Processed and packaged foods wreak havoc on whatever remains.
And yet, we wonder why our adulthood generations are laden with food intolerance, leaky gut, IBS, reflux/GERD, and the like. It’s simply the snowball that forms when we first set out to kill all bacteria!
Using Essential Oils for Whole Body Health
Essential oils have become so popular and loved, I believe, because they are so versatile. The same peppermint that can freshen your toothpaste can also soothe your gut and clean your counter. We’re beginning to realize that our health and hygiene concerns aren’t isolated.
What we put in our bodies, what we put on our bodies, what’s in our houses, what’s in our air, what’s in our minds – everything is connected to something else. The good news for us is that means we can tackle it in bite sizes, one baby step at a time, and expect the results to carry.
Essential oils are the ideal tool to use in this process, since they too affect so many areas of our lives. Even the originally-associated use of modern aromatherapy – relaxation – can affect gut health!
No matter how small or big your efforts in gut health seem to be, take some essential oils with you along the way. Your body will thank you for it.
Immune, cognitive, emotional, and digestive issues all stem from the condition of the gut. Essential oils that protect and heal the digestive tract can be viewed as partners for whole-body wellness.
Remedies, medication, and diet and lifestyle should prioritize the bacterial balance in the gut above all else.
Essential oils can function as symptom relief, prevention, protection, and healing for your gut.
Certain pairings (blends) of essential oils work well together and can be beneficial to healing the gut. 5 of these combinations are:
1. Thyme & Rose
2. Cardamom & Clove
3. Peppermint & Ginger
4. Tea Tree & Oregano
5. Fennel & Tarragon