Most everyone will have suffered from diarrhea at some point during their lives. It can be extremely debilitating and is often very painful. There are a number of potential causes from viral and bacterial infections to alcohol abuse but in the majority of cases, the condition can be resolved at home.
Essential oils are one of a number of potential home remedies that can help relieve diarrhea and its symptoms.
Symptoms can range from nausea to bloating and pain. However, there is very little research into the effects of essential oils on diarrhea and it may be a sign of a more serious illness. You should consult your doctor and only use essential oils as a complementary therapy.
What is Diarrhea?
When a person frequently passes loose, soft and watery stools, they are defined as having diarrhea. This is often accompanied by abdominal bloating, cramps, nausea and flatulence.
Treatment depends on the severity of the condition as well as the causes and the patient’s overall health. You should seek medical help if you are suffering from severe pain, dehydration, fever, vomiting or rectal bleeding.
However, in the majority of cases, you can treat diarrhea at home where it will typically resolve in a couple of days. To ease your symptoms, you should drink lots of fluids and eat simple foods like rice, toast and bananas.
Over-the-counter medications like Imodium can help relieve your symptoms. You should however speak to your doctor before taking an OTC remedy since some people should avoid them. Children under the age of five should not take OTC medications and it is important to keep your child well-hydrated.
Causes of Diarrhea
Diarrhea has a number of potential causes but viral infections are the most common. Viral diarrhea typically lasts between three and seven days. the following viruses can cause diarrhea :
- Norovirus : this is a common cause of diarrhea epidemics in schools, workplaces and nursing homes.
- Rotavirus : commonly causes infant diarrhea.
- Adenovirus : this can commonly affect people of any age.
Bacterial infections usually cause more severe diarrhea than viral infections. They are often caused by food poisoning. bacterial infections can cause more severe symptoms including fever, abdominal pain and vomiting. Bacterial diarrhea can be caused by the following :
- Salmonellae, Campylobacter and Shigella : these organisms are the most common bacteria linked to bacterial diarrhea.
- E. coli, Listeria and Yersinia : these strains of bacteria can also cause diarrhea.
Several parasites can infect the digestive system and cause diarrhea. They often enter the system through contaminated water. Parasites that cause diarrhea include Crytosporidium and Giardia lamblia.
Foreign Travel : Many people pick up diarrhea when they travel to foreign countries and come into contact with unfamiliar parasites and viruses. This is known as traveler’s diarrhea.
Other Causes of Diarrhea
- Intestinal Diseases : Such as IBS, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
- Food intolerance : including lactose intolerance and artificial sweeteners.
- Certain Medications : Including antibiotics, gout medication, blood pressure drugs, weight loss medications and antacids.
- Alcohol abuse : Including chronic alcoholism and binge drinking.
- Laxative Abuse
- Radiation Treatment
- Running : runners may be familiar with the so called ‘runner’s trots’ which can happen after long runs.
Symptoms of Diarrhea
Diarrhea can come with a range of uncomfortable symptoms including the following :
- Loose and Watery Stools : The stools can be any color but red stools may be a sign of intestinal bleeding and serious infection.
- Abdominal Cramp : Diarrhea is sometimes accompanied with abdominal pain and cramping, The severity varies but is usually mild to moderate. more severe pain could be a sign of a more serious disease.
- Fever : this is an uncommon symptom. The presence of a fever may be a sign of a more serious illness.
- Bloating and Flatulence : gas and bloating are common symptoms
- The Frequent Urge to Move your Bowels
How Essential Oils Can Help
It is important to note that essential oils should only be used as a complimentary treatment along with your medical advice. there are very few studies into the effects of essential oils on diarrhea. However, there is some evidence that essential oils can help to ease some of the symptoms associated with diarrhea like bloating, cramps and nausea.
Many essential oils also have antibacterial and antiviral properties that may help fight against the pathogens responsible for the condition. Unfortunately, essential oils have not been extensively studied for their efficacy against diarrhea itself.
Nevertheless, many essential oils contain antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties that may help ease some of the symptoms. Some oils can also help relieve nausea and stimulate digestion.
Best Essential Oils for Diarrhea
Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint essential oil contains menthol and is known for its carminative and anti-inflammatory effects. This essential oil can help combat certain symptoms of diarrhea including cramps, bloating and flatulence.
As well as its carminative actions, peppermint essential oil also has powerful antispasmodic actions that can help ease the cramps and pain that often accompany a bout of diarrhea. (1)
It also makes people feel refreshed and generally healthy and may help ease feelings of nausea. Peppermint essential oil may also improve your digestive health by stimulating bile production.
To use peppermint essential oil for diarrhea, you can diffuse it around the home. You can also apply it topically to your abdomen but make sure that you dilute it well first in a carrier oil like coconut oil or sweet almond oil.
Cinnamon Essential Oil
Cinnamon essential oil is a warming oil with a wonderful fragrance but it has a wide range of potential medicinal effects thanks to its active compounds like cinnemaldehyde.
Studies have found that cinnamon oil has powerful antimicrobial effects against a range of pathogens that may cause diarrhea including salmonella and Staphylococcus aureus. (2)
Cinnamon essential oil also has antispasmodic actions that can help ease the intestinal cramps that often accompanies bouts of diarrhea.
Diffuse the oil or dilute and apply it topically to your abdomen.
Oregano Essential Oil
Oregano essential oil is a powerful medicinal oil with a number of uses. These medicinal applications are largely the down to the presence of two compounds – carvacrol and thymol.
Studies have found that oregano essential oil has a number of therapeutic effects that may help ease diarrhea and its symptoms.
Oregano essential oil has antibacterial actions against various bacterial strains. (3) It also has excellent anti-inflammatory actions and has demonstrated an ability to fight small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. (SIBO) (4)
Although the oil has not been tested for its anti-diarrhea effects on humans, one animal study found that treatment with oregano oil significantly reduced the symptoms of diarrhea in newborn calves. (5)
Oregano oil is a very powerful essential oil and should never be taken internally. It can be diffused or applied topically as long as it is well-diluted with a carrier oil.
Ginger Essential Oil
Ginger essential oil may help ease some of the symptoms associated with diarrhea. Several studies have found that it has powerful anti-inflammatory effects while it may also act as a digestive aid. (6)
Diarrhea is sometimes accompanied by a feeling of nausea and ginger essential oil is one of the best oil remedies for sickness and nausea. One study found that it helped people suffering from nausea following surgery while it is also used to deal with motion sickness. (7)
Ginger essential oil can be diffused and is considered safe to apply topically in its diluted form. Try diluting the oil with a suitable carrier oil and rubbing it into your belly and temples to help relieve nausea caused by diarrhea.
Tea Tree Essential Oil
Tea tree essential oil is one of the most diverse and popular of all essential oils. It has a very wide range of medicinal benefits including antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that may help fight diarrhea and ease the symptoms.
Studies have found that tea tree oil is an effective remedy against several bacterial strains that can cause diarrhea including E. coli. (8). Its anti-inflammatory effects can also help soothe the inflammation and discomfort of the digestive tract caused by bouts of diarrhea.
Diffuse this oil through the house or dilute and apply it topically..
Ravintsara Essential Oil
Ravintsara essential oil is not as popular as many on the list but it comes with a wide variety of medicinal benefits. It is very high in eucalyptol which gives this oil excellent antiviral properties.
It also has powerful anti-inflammatory and antibacterial benefits as well as antispasmodic effects that can ease many of the symptoms of diarrhea such as cramping and bloating.
Roman Chamomile Essential Oil
Roman chamomile essential oil can help treat some of the symptoms of diarrhea especially pain and discomfort.
While it does not have the range of medicinal properties found in more powerful oils, it can help ease discomfort, cramping and pain caused by an outbreak of diarrhea.
Roman chamomile essential oil has a wonderful, floral fragrance and is perfect for diffusing. It can also be diluted and applied topically to help ease your digestive symptoms.
Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender essential oil finds its way onto most medicinal lists and there is good reason for its popularity. This oil is gentle-acting and has a very wide range of potential used for both the body and the mind.
Among its many medicinal properties are anti-inflammatory and analgesic actions as well as antispasmodic properties that can help relieve many of the symptoms of diarrhea. It can also help ease the anxiety you may be feeling during a bout of illness.
While lavender oil is one of the few essential oils that can be applied topically without dilution, it is still better to stay on the side of caution and dilute it with a carrier oil first.
Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Eucalyptus essential oil gets the majority of its medicinal effects from the presence of eucalyptol or 1,
Studies have found that this compound has a very wide range of medicinal effects including anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. (9) This makes eucalyptus oil a good option for dealing with many of the symptoms of diarrhea including inflammation, cramps and pain.
It can be applied topically but should always be diluted in a good quality carrier oil first.
How to Use Essential Oils for Diarrhea
Even though some people use essential oils internally, we do not recommend ingesting them. There are however a number of ready made capsules on the market that contain essential oils like peppermint or oregano. make sure that you speak with your doctor before taking any of those internal remedies.
These are the safest and hopefully most effective ways of treating diarrhea and its symptoms with essential oils.
- Inhalation : If you are feeling nauseous as a result of your condition, try inhaling ginger or peppermint essential oil directly from the bottle.
- Diffuser : Most essential oils can be inhaled via a diffuser machine. You can use between 5 and 20 drops of essential oil in your machine either one essential oil or several oils combined. Some people advise not diffusing for more than a few hours at a time because it may cause nausea or headaches.
- Topical Application : When it comes to treating the symptoms of diarrhea, you can apply the oils in this article directly to your stomach. Make sure that you dilute your chosen oil in a carrier oil before massaging the mixture into your lower abdomen. This is a good way to treat the cramps, bloating and nausea that accompany diarrhea.
- Aromatic Bath : Add ten or so drops of your chosen essential oil to your bathwater. Sit back, relax and let the oils do their work.
Side Effects and Precautions
Essential oils are highly concentrated plant extracts. While they can be incredibly useful, they must be treated with respect. Make sure that you buy your oils from a reputed supplier and be sure to follow these guidelines :
- Do not take your essential oils internally unless under expert medical supervision.
- Most essential oils are safe for topical use as long as they are diluted first. There are any number of carrier oils to choose from and some of the most popular include olive oil, coconut oil and jojoba oil.
- Even after you have diluted your essential oils, you should perform a patch test to ensure against sensitivity. Apply a small amount of the diluted oil to your skin, cover and wait for 24 hours. If there is no reaction, you may go ahead and apply the larger dose.
- Pregnant women and nursing moms should consult their doctor before using essential oils.
Diarrhea is a common condition with a number of potential causes. Symptoms include loose and watery stools that may be accompanied by pain, gas, bloating and nausea.
Most cases of diarrhea clear up pretty fast without the need for medical treatment. There are a number of potential home remedies including essential oils,
While essential oils may not ‘cure’ your condition, they can help ease some of the symptoms like bloating, pain and gas.
Some of the best essential oils to treat diarrhea and its symptoms include peppermint, ginger, oregano and lavender essential oils.