Essential Oils For Diarrhea & Upset Stomach: Do They Work?
Diarrhea is characterized by loose, watery bowel movements and usually lasts 1-2 days (acute diarrhea).
It’s often a natural reaction to the detection of toxins and harmful microbes in the digestive tract.
Diarrhea tends to resolve on its own unless there is a more serious underlying condition such as Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s.
Common causes of this condition include food poisoning, viruses, food allergies or sensitivities, stress or anxiety, or bacteria/parasites/fungi.
Symptoms of diarrhea can include watery stools, three or more daily bowel movements, abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, indigestion, blood or mucus in the stool, fever, and nausea.
One of the biggest causes for concern with diarrhea is dehydration.
It’s important to drink sufficient fluids, preferably water with electrolytes and herbal teas.
Take a high-quality probiotic daily to fight infections and boost the levels of ‘good’ bacteria in your gut.
If you’re looking for more natural remedies to address loose stools and diarrhea symptoms, then essential oils and aromatherapy may also help.
Essential Oils As Home Remedies
Essential oils (EOs) are highly concentrated plant extracts containing hundreds of active compounds known to support healthy body function and well-being.
The use of essential oils spans back hundreds of years and across many different world cultures and healing modalities like Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
EOs can offer immune system support (keep in mind that about 80% of your immune system is located in your gastrointestinal tract!)
EOs possess strong anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, and antispasmodic properties.
When used with care and mindfulness, they can help aid your digestive system.
The Best Essential Oils For Diarrhea
Peppermint oil (Mentha piperita)
- Gastrointestinal antitoxic
- Digestive aid
Peppermint essential oil is widely known as an upset tummy soother because it can help relax digestive muscles when cramping.
It can provide a cooling sensation thanks to its main active compound – menthol.
A 2007 Italian study on the effects of internal consumption of peppermint oil found a greater than 50% reduction in IBS symptoms like diarrhea, bloating, and abdominal discomfort amongst 75% of its test subjects. (1)
Contraindications: not suitable for pregnant women, infants, small children, those with hiatal hernia, or significant gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Ginger oil (Zingiber officinale)
- Digestive aid
- Tonic for the intestinal tract
In Ayurvedic medicine, ginger essential oil is used to address intestinal and liver issues, gas, upset stomach, and anemia.
It has a high content of gingerols, an active compound with high anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger oil is also an excellent digestive aid that helps create inner warmth and soothe nausea and indigestion.
Contraindications: people with diabetes, gallbladder issues, and heart conditions. Consult with your doctor before taking ginger oil if you’re pregnant or nursing.
Lemon oil (Citrus limon)
- Immune system booster
Lemon essential oil is a potent antibacterial agent that helps to kill off harmful bacteria.
It can also help to balance digestive acid levels in the gut.
Lemon also offers multiple health benefits as it’s a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory rich in Vitamin C.
Contraindications: All citrus oils, including lemon, are phototoxic – they may cause skin irritation, and direct sunlight exposure should be avoided 12 hours after usage.
Other essential oils that may be beneficial for diarrhea and digestive health:
- Chamomile – Animal studies suggest chamomile oil may offer antidiarrheal and antioxidant properties. (2)
- Fennel – According to a study published in Biomed Research International, fennel oil has the power to alleviate both constipation and diarrhea along with flatulence, gastritis, irritable colon, and stomach aches. (3)
- Oregano – Often considered ‘nature’s antibiotic’ because of its strong antibacterial effect on intestinal bacteria.
- Frankincense – supports the immune system and is a potent anti-inflammatory.
- Anise – this licorice-like flavored spice was found to help alleviate IBS-related bloating, diarrhea, reflux, and abdominal discomfort. (4)
- Tea tree – Known as a potent antiseptic and wound healer, tea tree essential oil should be applied topically only and never ingested as it is toxic.
How To Use Essential Oils For Diarrhea
For topical use, mix 2-3 drops of EO per 1 teaspoon of a carrier oil such as coconut oil or olive oil. Use the Upset Tummy Rx recipe below.
Use the recipe below to make your own Rehydration Elixir.
Using an essential oil diffuser is the least concentrated way to apply essential oils for diarrhea.
To use it, simply mix 15-17 drops of EOs into your diffuser and add water.
Make sure the room that you’re diffusing in a well-ventilated room.
If you have a respiratory condition like asthma or COPD, consult with your healthcare provider before inhaling any essential oil.
- When essential oils are used safely and mindfully, they typically offer little to no harmful side effects.
- Always choose high-quality, certified organic, therapeutic-grade products that have not been diluted or contaminated. Look for food or supplement grade brands that explicitly indicate they’re safe for consumption.
- Essential oils aren’t regulated by the FDA (Food & Drug Administration), so, unfortunately, many products on the market may be diluted or contaminated.
- Essential oil blends can be beneficial because mixing EOs often amplifies the healing effects.
- Make sure you’re aware of the contraindications for each oil you’ll use. Some oils aren’t suitable for babies, young children, pregnant and nursing women, and high blood pressure or epilepsy.
- If you experience any adverse reaction or skin irritation while using any oil, discontinue use immediately.
- Always consult with your doctor before using any essential oils medicinally, especially if you have a medical condition or are taking any prescription medication.
Two Essential Oil Recipes For Diarrhea
Upset Tummy Rx
Essential oil blends can enhance and amplify the medicinal effects of single EOs.
Use this topical blend to soothe an upset stomach anytime:
- Three tablespoons of coconut oil
- Nine drops of peppermint oil
- Nine drops of roman or german chamomile oil
- Four drops of fennel oil
- Four drops of anise oil
Apply the mixture to your abdomen and gently rub in a circular motion, allowing the oils to seep through the skin and into the bloodstream, tissues, and organs.
For best results, apply twice a day – morning and night.
Fill a glass with alkaline water (400-500 ml) and add the following to create a natural and chemical-free Rehydration Elixir:
- ¼ teaspoon of sea salt
- One tablespoon of honey
- ½ teaspoon of bicarbonate
- One drop of organic and supplement-grade lemon essential oil*
- One drop of organic and supplement-grade ginger essential oil*
* Ensure the essential oils are certified organic and clearly labeled as supplement grade or ‘safe to ingest.’ If you don’t see this clearly outlined on the label, do not ingest it.