Essential Oils for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

 Introduction to IBS

IBS is the abbreviation of “Irritable Bowel Syndrome” which is a chronic functional disorder that may last for years.

IBS influences the function of the colon, causing symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation, etc. The symptoms vary between individuals. According to common diagnoses of IBS, there are 3 types of IBS, and no one is in the majority:
  • IBS-C: IBS with constipation
  • IBS-D: IBS with diarrhea
  • IBS-A: IBS with alternating constipation and diarrhea
Even the symptom are real and have a lot of cases, no clear medical or biological reason can explain the cause of IBS. It is considered that mental stress and change of working or living environments may stimulate IBS to take place. By this mean, IBS is more of a body disorder caused by several mental and physical factors. This is quite different from typical diseases which may be caused by particular types of bacteria or virus, or by pathological changes of specific organs. The result is that IBS usually does not cause severe damage to the body, but no practical methods can make a cure once and for all.

How to relieve the symptoms of IBS?

For chronic ailments, dietary is always the most important factor that should be paid attention to. As a regular suggestion, decrease the intake of spicy or other irritative food. Drink hot and clean water. Be away from alcohol and commercial beverage. Do not eat energetic food. A good dietary habit is always more valuable than expensive medicines for treating IBS symptoms.

For mental aspects, it is reasonable to manage the stress and keep a mild pace during work and normal life. A healthy lifestyle is good for the body to be active in counteracting the negative influences from changing of the natural or social environments.

There are medicines to relieve the symptoms of  IBS. However, as IBS is a complex condition, specific medication may make positive changes to certain aspects, but cause adverse effects on others. Do ask for a doctor if you are really in need of medicine to treat IBS.

Essential Oils for IBS Treatment

In history, the traditional medicine used herbal plants to treat digestive disorders or ailments for centuries. Nowadays, people began to study the mechanisms with modern science and got promising results. It is found that the essential oils extracted from such herbal plants are effective to relieve IBS related digestive symptoms, especially using peppermint oil.

When the peppermint oil enters into the bowel, it can relax the muscles along the walls of the small intestines, and help to k the regular contraction of the muscles. Studies show that using enteric-coated, delayed-release peppermint oil capsules positively decrease the abdominal pain of the IBS patients during 8 weeks of observation.

Besides peppermint oil, conventional essential oils to relieve symptoms of IBS also include ginger oil, pepper basil oil, fennel oil, and oregano oil. The functions and effects of these essential oils for IBS symptoms controls are much the same with peppermint oil.

How to use the essential oils for IBS?

The most common way to use essential oils is to combine with massage, namely aromatherapy massage. During the process, you need to mix the essential oil with a conventional carrier oil, such as jojoba oil, to form the massage oil. Then use the mixed oil on the stomach, and massage the skin gently to let the essentials oils be absorbed and take effect.

There are also capsule forms of essential oils for IBS use, of which enteric-coated capsules are more favorable. Although the essential oils can help regulate our digestive system, they can also result in adverse reactions of other organs. By this means, essential oils packed in enteric-coated form can prevent absorption before entering into the intestines, avoid the side effects on other parts of the body.

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