Essential Oils for Digestive Health

Essential oils can be used for a variety of ailments including coughs and colds, headaches, digestive discomfort.  However, the possibilities are endless with essential oils you can create many recipes including homemade body butter, essential oil perfumes, makeup setting spray and many more.   For this blog I will share with you a number of Young Living essential oils used for digestive discomfort, including issues such as diverticulitis and irritable bowel syndrome.

Anyone with digestive health problems should have one or more of these oils on hand. Some oils have a positive effect in supporting the intestinal flora and eliminating parasites.  The active chemicals in essential oils are absorbed just like the ingredients in common pharmaceuticals like nicotine patches.

Blends are a number of pure essential oils carefully formulated oils to maximize the synergistic effect between the oils chemistry.

Single oils do not contain any other oils,  blends, or additives. They are pure unadulterated essential oils.

DigizeDigize is a blend that relieves digestive problems including indigestion, heartburn, gas and bloating.  The ingredients are: Tarragon, Ginger, Peppermint, Juniper, Fennel, Lemongrass, Anise, Patchoulli

 

FennelFennel is a single oil that has a sweet ainse-like aroma that is used when experiencing digestive discomfort   It also is anti-inflammatory to help relieve joint or muscle pain associated with sprains, strains and rheumatoid arthritis.  Also to relieve minor skin irritation, cuts, bruises and burns.

 

GingerGinger is a warm, spicy fragrance that is energizing.  Traditionally used to combat nausea.  It is used for arthritis, digestive disorders, respiratory infections or congestion, muscular aches and pains.

 

 

PatchouliPatchouli has a musky, earthy aroma.  It is a digestive aid that combats nausea.  When inhaled can act as a nervine and calmative which enhances relaxation.  This essential oil may be used topically to improve the appearance of dry skin and is an ideal complement when added to your favorite skin care products.

 

PeppermintPeppermint is one of the oldest and most highly regarded herbs. Peppermint oil is also well-known for its anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and anti-parasitic qualities and has been widely used throughout history to treat bacterial, fungal, and parasitic infections, both internally and externally. It has been used to  reduce pain caused by  muscle tension and inflammation such as headaches, joint pain,        muscle soreness, and swollen lymph glands.

ThievesThieves® is a blend of Clove, Lemon, Cinnamon, Eucalyptus Radiata, and Rosemary essential oils.  It is an antiviral, antiseptic, anti-bacterial essential oil.  Inspired by the legend of four 15th-century French thieves who formulated a special aromatic combination composed of clove, rosemary, and other botanicals.  All About Thieves.

6 Oils That Do Almost Anything.   When using essential oils, please read the label for instructions.

How to Use:

Essential oils can be applied topically or inhaled directly or aromatically through a diffuser.

  • Diffuse any oil of your choice for 1/2 hour every 4 – 6 hours or as desired
  • Put 2 – 3 drops of chosen oil in your hands and rub them together, cup your hands over your nose and inhale throughout the day, as needed.
  • Put  2 – 3 drops of oil on a cotton ball or tissue and put it in your air vent in your home or vehicle.  You can also purchase a portable diffuser for your vehicle
  • Dilute the oil 50/50 with a carrier oil (eg. almond, fractionated coconut oil) and apply on lower abdomen twice daily.  Rub in a clockwise motion.

Where to Purchase:

To take full advantage of 24% discount on all Young Living essential oils, home, personal care and wellness products, become a wholesale member today.

If you wish to get the full benefits of using essential oils for health and wellness these pocket reference books are invaluable:

Essential Oils Pocket Reference

Essential Oils: The Essential Oil Guide for Beginners: Learn to Use Essential Oils for Beauty, Health, and Healing (Aromatherapy, Essential Oil Recipes, Essential Oils Pocket Reference) by [Smith, Robert]

Essential Oils for Beginners

ylu-oil-safety-tips-infographic

 

References:

Essential Oils pocket reference

https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/explore-healing-practices/aromatherapy/how-do-essential-oils-work

http://www.naturallivingideas.com/peppermint-oil-uses/

 

Digestive Food Sense

Now that you have done a full body cleanse let look at ways you can maintain a healthy program to ensure that your digestive health flourishes.

Food Sense:

Food combining is a hard one to get used to doing, because we eat when we feel hungry. How many of you think about what foods to eat and when?  Its not easy to change habits of a lifetime but if you wish to be free of digestive issues, the time to start is now.

Different foods have varying times to be digested in the small intestines.  (If this is the first time you are reading my blog, then acquaint yourself on how your digestive system works.)  Men and women differ in the amount of time required for digestion but average times are as follows:

  • Fruits –  15- 20 minutes
  • Salads –  30 – 40 minutes
  • Carbohydrates  – 60 minutes
  • Beans/Lentils – 1.5 hours
  • Nuts and seeds – 2 – 3 hours
  • Dairy (hard cheese) 4 – 5 hours; (whole milk cottage cheese) 2 hours
  • Animal protein:
    • beef  – 3 – 4 hours
    • chicken – 1.5 – 2 hours
    • fish – 45 – 60 minutes

If you have never tried food combining, then give it a try, it works.  When you simplify the foods that you eat in one sitting your digestive system will not be overtaxed.

The best guide I have found that is easy to follow is from Detoxinista. The group of foods in Step 1 are in their own individual boxes, don’t cross-combine, instead select from step 2 then wait before selecting from step 3.

food combining chart showing you how to properly combine foods

The first time I practiced these steps, I ate my protein first, waited a few hours then ate carbohydrates. I was surprised that I did not spend my time afterwards burping and being bloated like a balloon ready for take off.

By waiting for a period of time before switching food categories, I also found I did not need to eat as much unhealthy snacks.  When I became hungry it was my next mini meal that I consumed instead of snacks.  If you eat all your food in one sitting then guess what – you snack on things that do not help your digestive system.

Here are some other tips to incorporate into your daily routine to maintain a healthy digestive system:

  • Do not eat fruits with meals, eat fruits on an empty stomach
  • Do not eat protein and carbohydrates or starches together
  • Chew your food thoroughly (30 – 40 times to start secreting digestive enzymes)
  • Eat bitter greens such as dandelion leaves, artichoke as a salad before a meal (for bile production)
  • Add some acid to your meal such as fermented foods – 1/4 to 1/2 cup of unpasteurized sauerkraut
  • Use fermented milk such as unsweetened keifir
  • Take flax oil and omega 3 fats with meals to help break down foods, and these oils are also good for the gallbladder.

If there is one thing to remember is that protein requires HCL (hydrochloric acid) to be digested and carbohydrates reduces the production of HCL.  Instead eat carbohydrates with vegetables.

Further reading:

Continue reading Digestive Food Sense

Colon Exercises

Do you want to regain control over your digestive system but just don’t have time to do a cleanse right now? You are not alone.  In previous blogs you learned why it is necessary to have a healthy gut.  Why don’t you take the 12-day full body cleanse challenge this weekend, I promise you will not regret it.  I recently did the 12 Day Detox Cleanse – Wild Rose Herbal D-Tox Kit.  I lost inches off my waistline, my stomach is the flatter than ever and bloating has banished.  My colon got a good workout!  No amount of exercise can achieve this in such a short space of time.  Trust me I have tried all sorts of exercises, but failed to maintain a flat stomach.

Let me explain with an example, why you need to kick-start with a full body cleanse.  If you made lasagna in your pyrex dish and was too lazy after eating it, left the dish for a few days with burnt cheese and pasta sauce, would you take the unclean dish and start using it again without washing it?  Most likely not, so why leave waste in your colon, probably for days.  Your colon need to get rid of waste on a daily basis, if not twice but at least once a day.  We all like to pretty up the outer body – hair, makeup, cologne, etc. yet we don’t like to think about the inner body and our unhealthy bathroom routine or non-routine.

Related image
photo: midrandservices

So lets talk dirty! Sometimes we are just too busy or lazy to sit on the toilet long enough to evacuate the contents of the colon.  If your colon is not as active as you would like it to be and you are new to this regime, then take the 12-day full body cleanse challenge .  Also did you know that there are techniques you can use to train your colon; much like you train your muscles at the gym.

In a previous blog we discussed the body’s “second brain” or the enteric system and how food is moved through the digestive system.  The brain knows that once you start eating, your colon will kick into gear and becomes active. Dr Francisco Marrero, MD, a gastroenterologist  says that “the colon becomes active after a meal because of the gastrocolic reflex, which senses food in the stomach and sends the lower gastrointestinal tract the message that it is time to function”.

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So let’s learn some boot camp techniques for your colon. Even while on the 12-day cleanse challenge, or any of the other full body cleanses  mentioned in previous blogs. You can practice these exercises to achieve full evacuation of the colon.  It will become part of your daily routine, even if you do not always have the urge to go, these exercises will kick start the colon.  If you regularly take laxatives, please cease as this masks the underlying problem and prevent the colon muscles from working.  These exercises will help retrain your colon.

You can do any of the following exercises in the morning and or after any meal, then go and sit on the throne!  Avoid any distractions – leave your cell phone behind. Just concentrate and breathe deeply.  Take the time and your body will respond.  You can listen to some classical music to relax your mind, if you are so inclined.  Remember I am not telling you anything that I have not tried, I have done the full body cleanse and continuously do the following exercises.

For exercise 1 you will need some castor oil or any other body oil.  I use cold-pressed castor oil (contains active ingredient ricinoleic acid).  A castor oil pack, when placed on the skin with some heat, is thought to enhance circulation when placed on the stomach. It can improve digestion and may relieve constipation symptoms.

If you have any gas or bloating, these exercises will help ease the discomfort.  If you have sensitive skin, test the castor oil on a small patch of skin first.  Do not forget to drink plenty of spring water during the day, eat sufficient fibre and take a probiotic every day.  Water is important for your digestion. It keeps the food you eat moving along through your intestines.

Exercise 1:

Before getting out of bed in the morning, lie on your back with knees bent.  Take some castor oil and rub on your fingers.  Place your fingers on your navel area and in a circular clockwise motion massage with a little pressure, over your small intestine area 10 – 15 times.

Then move your fingers to the lower right side, just above your pubic bone.  Apply a little pressure and slowly run fingers of both hands up and around the colon, up and around and down to the left side.  Your fingers should pass over the entire shape of your colon. Do this 10 – 15 times.  Then drink a glass of room temperature water with a slice of lemon then sit on the toilet.

Exercise 2:

A very simple exercise that do not require any equipment but give your body a workout and your internal organs a cleansing and toning is jumping jacks.   You can also use a jump rope and skip.  If you have a mini trampoline you can also do some rebounding exercises. Do these exercise for 5 – 15 minutes.  Then drink a glass of room temperature water with a slice of lemon then sit on the toilet.

Exercise 3:

If you are like me and sit on your behind most of the day at the office, your stomach muscles will be loose.  I am also not a great fan of gyms, I like to walk instead.   I recently bought myself a resistance band.  I use the band to do stomach exercises such as sit-ups and crunches to strengthen the core stomach muscles.  Please be careful with the band as it can be a flying missile if not held properly.

You can do these exercises while during the cleanse and continue doing them thereafter on a daily basis. You will be amazed how your colon will respond and get into a routine.

Continue reading Colon Exercises

Your Second Brain

If someone asked you how many brains do you have, what would be your answer? Stupid question huh, of course I have one brain.  Did you know that there are other nervous systems in our body known as the enteric nervous system (ENS) that is located in our belly. It has been as called the second brain.  Have you ever heard the expression “I have a gut feeling.” Well that feeling may really come from that second brain. Interesting!

“The enteric nervous system in humans consists of some 500 million neurons, one two-hundredth of the number of neurons in the brain, five times as many as the one hundred million neurons in the human spinal cord, and about 2/3 as many as in the whole nervous system of a cat. The enteric nervous system is embedded in the lining of the gastrointestinal system, beginning in the esophagus and extending down to the anus.” (Wikipedia)

 

Image result for enteric nervous system

That is phenomenal.  It takes an enormous amount of coordination and effort for the body to transform food into fuel.  If this was left to your brain alone, then we would not be functioning for most of the day.  This sounds like me after a heavy meal – non-functioning.  The brain delegates the digestive task to the ENS, which is built into our digestive system.

Digestion requires a variety of very precise chemical mixtures produced at the right times and delivered to the right locations. The wall of the intestine is coated with specialized cells that act as chemical detectors that identify the food you eat.  The data sent by these detectors tells the ENS what digestive enzymes are required to break the food down into particles that the body can absorb.  Mind boggling but truly a wonder of creation.

Did you know that 70 – 80 percent of the lymphocyte cells (immune system defense) in your body is in your belly?  The ENS also plays a role in the regulation of hormones that tell the brain when you should eat and how much you should eat. Even telling the brain when you are full or feel nauseous.

Did you also know that during stress the brain triggers the ENS to change the gut’s normal contractions.  These are the muscle contractions needed to make the system function like a conveyor belt to move the waste through your intestines.  Hmmm, beginning to make sense now why stress causes so many digestive issues.  If you have not yet performed a liver, gallbladder and colon cleanse take a look at Body Cleansing 101.

Next time you eat a meal, pause and think about all the monitoring, data processing, coordination and communication that is about to take place in your digestive system.

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Did you Know?

Have you gone to the drug store and picked up a bottle of vitamin and it has written on the label ‘enteric coated‘.  What does it mean? It is a tablet that is coated with a material to allow it to dissolve in the small intestine only and prevent dissolution in the acidic environment of the stomach.  It also protects the stomach from irritating drugs (e.g. aspirin).

 

Continue reading Your Second Brain

Ways to Improve Stomach Acid

You may say, my stomach has acid! Yes, you and I are a walking chemical factory.  We all have it but for some people their stomach acids (which comprises of hydrochloric acid (HCL), potassium acid and sodium chloride) do not have the proper levels of acidity or have the proper levels of HCL.

A typical human will secrete between 1.2 – 1.5 litres of stomach acid per day.  The stomach acid should have a pH level between 1 – 2.  We need stomach acid to:

  • kill harmful bacteria
  • digest protein
  • absorb vitamin B12 (for brain, nervous system and blood formation)
  • reduce food into small particles for the intestine to absorb nutrients
  • initiate the rhythmic contractions of the intestine that crush and move food through the GI tract

Because of high stress, processed foods, antibiotic or prescription use, many people tend to have a deficient supply of stomach acid; this can result in many health implications.

Here is a simple test you can perform at home to test your stomach acid. I purchased organic baking soda that does not contain aluminium to do this test.  If you have stomach ulcers do not take this test. You will need to find the source of the problem and heal the ulcer.

StomachAcid_BakingSodaTest

If your stomach acid is at the proper level, you should belch between 2 – 3 minutes.  If it takes you longer than 5 minutes and you have not belched or burped, then your stomach acid is insufficient. If you have early and repeated belching this may be due to excessive stomach acid.

You can also do a stomach acid test to measure the amount of acid in the stomach.  It also measures the level of acidity in the stomach.

Your stomach acid must be acidic and levels sufficient enough to breakdown proteins for absorption and perform many other functions in the body.  How can you determine your needed HCL amount and maintain the proper levels of stomach acid?  Here is a very informative article  “Determine Your HCL Amount” which has a strategy how to increase your level of stomach acid using betaine HCL with pepsin.

A normal response to taking betaine HCL after a meal is a feeling of warmth in the stomach. If you feel nothing then you may have improper levels of stomach acid.

Note: If you are taking any sort of NSAID medication such as ibuprofen, tylenol or aspirin then do not take betaine HCL.

Here are some other ways from to improve your stomach acid pH levels to aid digestion.

StomachAcid_ImproveStomachAcid

If you would like to know more about the mechanics of this marvelous body organ watch this one minute video from www.britannica.com (scroll to the bottom of page).

When I did the baking soda test, it took me 2 minutes to burp.  I concluded that my stomach acid was average.  Can my stomach acid levels or acidity be improved?  Can I improve my bile productions? Are there other things I should also know about aiding digestion? Yes.  My motto is: Knowledge knows no boundaries.

My next blog will provide you with some useful information how to maintain your digestive health.

If you like what you have read, I would like to hear from you.  Also, please share with your friends.

 

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Continue reading Ways to Improve Stomach Acid

Keeping the Colon Healthy

So far we have had an overview of the vital organs of the digestive system (liver, gallbladder, colon) and why they need to be in good working order to create the right environment for a healthy digestive system, so what now? After the body has been cleansed, it is easier to balance and nourish the systems of the body.  This includes rebuilding and nourishing beneficial intestinal flora and re-mineralizing the blood and tissues.

Foods to nourish and re-mineralize the intestinal flora are called prebiotics.  In the book Microbiome Diet by Raphael Kellman indicates that the bacteria in our gut helps to improve digestion, metabolism, and immunity.

We hear a lot about probiotics, everyone is on the bandwagon but very little is shared about prebiotics, so what is the difference between prebiotics and probiotics.  According to WebMD nutritionist Michael Smith MDProbiotics are “good” bacteria that help keep your digestive system healthy by controlling growth of harmful bacteria. Prebiotics are carbohydrates that cannot be digested by the human body. They are food for probiotics. The primary benefit of probiotics and prebiotics appears to be helping you maintain a healthy digestive system.

Photo: Purely Inspired

Basically, probiotics are prebiotics cousin and they need each other. You can take a prebiotic supplement  or Natural Prebiotic and Probiotics but if you can regularly eat these foods raw you get double the benefit, both prebiotic and fibre, to keep your colon healthy.  Do not cook them as heat changes the composition and alters its natural state, so be creative and you will enjoy eating them.

  • Chicory root
  • Jerusalem artichoke
  • Dandelion greens
  • Garlic
  • Leeks
  • Onion
  • Asparagus
  • Bananas

Wheat bran and wheat flour also contain prebiotic friendly bacteria, but for those who are gluten intolerant I will not recommend you consume them.

You will also need to eat probiotic foods as well, as they are symbiotic.  You can usually find these in your local health food stores, if not, from Amazon: keifir (unsweetened and organic), sauerkraut and kimchi

Sometimes we may succumb to the temptation of eating foods that make our stomach bloat or have issues with occasional constipation. I’m not immune to that because I am gluten intolerant and sometimes get the urge to eat foods that contain gluten.  Here are a few video links to some useful tips and information from Natural Cures and Dr Eric Berg that can help:

The video Ramp Up your Gut Bacteria is a must watch 10-minute video.  Products mentioned in above videos can be obtained from Amazon (see links below), if you are unable to source locally:

If you get one thing only, get the organic prebiotics to ramp up your gut bacteria.  When you have made all the effort to perform a full body cleanse, try to use as much as possible organic products in their natural state to prevent reabsorbing toxins unnecessarily.

Take a read of the blog on stomach acid and why it is important to be at the proper level of acidity.  If you like what you are reading, please share with your friends, they will thank you for it.

 

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Body Cleansing 101

We have discussed briefly the vital organs of the digestive system and how they function. They work in tandem to complete a circuit, and the first step is to do a full body cleanse, which includes the liver, gallbladder and colon (the 3 amigos). This is essential for proper detoxification, aiding digestion and proper elimination.  If you are reading this page for the first time, educate yourself of these vital organs by visiting the previous blogs (Gut Hygiene, Love Your Liver, The Gallbladder) before proceeding.

We can eat our way to achieve a full body cleanse by following a body cleansing diet as recommended by Dr Group at the Global Healing Center.  You will have to be very disciplined to follow this diet but it is not always sustainable when you lead a busy life.

The alternative is to use a body cleansing kit.  I have researched a few product kits that are available for purchase on Amazon.  I have grouped these items as a collection – all items in the group will be required to create a complete kit for full liver and gallbladder body cleanse.  You can choose whichever group you prefer based on your needs.

Group 1 (Mini cleanse)

Instructions for  Group 1 cleanse: Group 1 instructions

Group 2

Instructions for Group 2 cleanse: Group 2 instructions

Group 3 (Maxi cleanse)

Instructions for Group 3 cleanse: Group 3 (Maxi cleanse) instructions.

Image result for colon cleansing at home

I also recently bought another full body cleanse 12 Day Detox Cleanse – Wild Rose Herbal D-Tox Kit (12 Day).  It comes with a neat little information booklet that also has a recommended diet section.  I love the list of organic herbs used in this product that provides a multi-system detoxification of the colon, kidneys, urinary tract, gastro-intestinal system and liver.  It is a 12-day program I have used and recommended  for the first detox user.  I found this detox cheaper on Amazon than the health food store.

I also highly recommend that after any cleanse you should always support your digestive tract with both prebiotics and probiotics (with  these bacteria L. acidophilus, B. longum, B. bifidum and L. fermentum to repopulate supercharge the healthy gut flora.  A good probiotic is one that also contains prebiotic –  Multi Probiotic 4000 or  Dr. David Williams Probiotic Advantage Ultra-20 Supplement with 20 Billion Probiotics, 60 Tablets (30-Day Supply).

Continue reading Body Cleansing 101

The road to happiness is….having a good digestive system