The center of your health lies within the center of your body—the gut (digestive system). The health of the gut is the key to your overall well-being. It has its own nervous system (the enteric nervous system) and an estimated 80% of your immune system resides in the gut (gut-associated lymphoid tissue). Ignoring the importance of a healthy gut is a mistake that can have wide-ranging consequences.

The digestive system is responsible for the breakdown of food—by mechanical and enzymatic activity—to release the nutrients your body uses for energy, growth, communication, and cellular repair. Each organ in the digestive system contributes to this process in a coordinated effort. Frankly, if you don’t digest, absorb, and eliminate properly it can undermine all other bodily functions.

One of the best ways to support your gut is to provide key essential oils daily. Some essential oils influence the expression of genes involved in digestion. Others regulate the speed at which food travels through the digestive tract. Certain oils promote intestinal and stomach integrity. Still, others relax the muscles of the digestive tract. Let’s explore eight oils that can help maintain a healthy gut.

Essential oils that support positive gut gene expression

Orange essential oil is known for its uplifting aroma and high content of the important monoterpene limonene. This sweet-smelling essential oil also positively influences genes related to digestive health. Similarly, lemon oil acts on genes that regulate the digestive process. Marjoram is another essential oil that encourages the positive expression of gut genes. When taken together, these three oils can help your organs release important enzymes and bile to promote healthy digestion.

Regulate the speed that food travels through the digestive tract with essential oils

The speed that food travels through the digestive tract (called gastrointestinal transit time) influences the absorption of nutrients and the consistency of bowel movements. Many factors affect this transit time, including what you eat, level of physical activity, psychological stress, and medications.

Whether your food is traveling too fast through the digestive tract or too slow, essential oils have you covered. Scientists have observed that peppermint essential oil slows GI transit time, which may help reduce occasional diarrhea. It also relaxes the gallbladder, allowing bile to release into the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine) and slows the rhythmic contraction of the GI tract (peristalsis). Interestingly, peppermint oil has been used with other oils to help people experiencing constipation so it may adapt to your individual needs.

If food isn’t traveling through the GI tract fast enough, ginger essential oil may be what you need. Ginger stimulates emptying of the stomach and increases peristalsis. The bottom line is that you will experience greater bowel regularity, which is key to digestive health.

Improve gut integrity with essential oils

Your intestines must maintain tight junctions that allow nutrients to exit the GI tract and enter the bloodstream without allowing larger molecules (toxins, allergenic peptides, etc.) to enter the bloodstream. The stomach also requires a fortified lining against stomach acid. Clove essential oil stimulates the production of the mucosal lining of the stomach.  Thyme oil improves intestinal integrity. Both oils help you maintain a healthy GI tract that absorbs nutrients well and protects the mucosal linings that shield it.

Essential oils that relax digestive tract muscles

Peppermint relaxes smooth muscle—like the muscle found in your gastrointestinal tract. Clinical research shows that peppermint essential oil reduces intestinal spasms when taken orally. Another mint oil, spearmint, also reduces intestinal spasms. Either of these options can help relax and soothe a stressed digestive tract.

Conclusion

Keep your gut in top shape by regularly using essential oils. They can be applied topically over the lower abdomen (diluted with carrier oil) or taken orally. If you want the oils to be released in the small and large intestine, take them in a capsule targeted to release there. If stomach support is what you need, then you can take mild oils in your favorite beverage. Maintaining a healthy gut will help you maintain overall well-being and vitality.