Essential oils have been used for centuries to help treat digestive issues.
Those that have experienced the symptoms of any stomach problem can sympathise with their discomfort, but IBS sufferers in particular can be met with extremely tiresome and painful ailments across their day-to-day lives.
While essential oils may not have occurred to many people as a potential tool, these fragrant remedies have become notorious for their ability to reduce symptoms, ease pain, and soothe stress.
We'll be exploring the top four best essential oils for IBS, as well as taking a deep dive into the potential sources of the condition and how aromatherapy can help.
What is IBS?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a collective term associated with issues surrounding digestive health.
The exact cause of IBS is not yet scientifically determined, however many medical professionals have linked the condition to ingestion of certain foods and drinks, the speed at which the food passes through the gut, oversensitive nerves in the gut and genetics - to name a few.
The symptoms of IBS include, but are not limited to, bloating, cramps, gut pain, trapped wind, and flatulence.
Sufferers may also feel waves of fatigue and nausea as a result of the uncomfortable impact these symptoms can have on their daily routines.
IBS symptoms can last days, weeks, or months at a time depending on the severity of the cause.
What are the best essential oils for IBS?
Essential oils are packed full of natural benefits that can impact many parts of the body and mind, but these four in particular are renowned for their positive effects on digestion.
It is a natural muscle relaxant, and attributes these qualities to two chemical constituents: limonene and menthol.
Limonene is a powerful anti-inflammatory that can reduce discomfort in the gut as well as minimise bloating, while menthol produces a cooling effect that has been studied for its ability to treat pain.
Both constituents together, when applied topically, can relieve symptoms of IBS as well as reduce tension headaches and nausea.
Lavender oil is most famous for its stress-relieving qualities, which can help calm the mind during particularly tiresome flare-ups.
As IBS is directly linked to stress levels, frequent inhalation of lavender oil may actually prevent symptoms from even starting up at all.
It is also a great remedy for sleep, so can help you drift off if you find your digestive issues are keeping you awake.
Most notably, lavender's anticonvulsant properties can help relax constricted muscles and, in turn, relieve pain cause by cramps.
Black pepper oil
Spicy and warming, black pepper essential oil is a unique oil - containing both spasmodic and antispasmodic properties at different doses.
While antispasmodics can calm tense muscles, spasmodics can stimulate them.
This means that, depending on the discomfort you're experiencing, you can use black pepper to either relieve painful cramps or reduce constipation - another common IBS symptom.
A 2013 study also discovered that inhaling black pepper could uplift low moods and prevent symptoms from worsening.
Fennel seed oil
Like black pepper, fennel seed is a natural antispasmodic with the ability to calm and relieve tense muscles.
It has also long been used as a remedy for gas and constipation, bloating, and clearing the bowels.
The primary appeal of fennel seed is that it's a volatile oil, meaning it can evaporate more quickly and thus provide relief at an increased rate.
Can I ingest essential oil for IBS pain?
Though it is believed that IBS relief can only truly be achieved through internal consumption, this is not the case for essential oils.
Topical application using a carrier oil is always recommended, and can be particularly useful around the gut area if you find yourself experiencing cramps and other forms of discomfort.
Ingestion, on the other hand, is never recommended for IBS or any other ailment, as essential oils are incredibly potent and could end up causing more problems than they solve.
Essential oils can be great additions to your routine, and those suffering from IBS could certainly benefit from their effects during uncomfortable flare ups.
However, it's important to remember that essential oils should only ever be used in conjunction with medical advice - so be sure not to neglect important advice form your doctor.