Essential Oil Therapy/Aromatherapy
for Bowel Problems

            Digestive problems plague a sizable portion of the population.  Many people are reluctant to talk about it, however, if you take a walk down the digestive aide aisle in a drugstore, it will be apparent that it is a large problem.   A healthy digestive system is vital for optimal health.

 Digestive enzymes can help the stomach breakdown food.  The stomach juices are loaded with enzymes that facilitate the digestion of the food we eat.  As we age, we produce less of these.  Supplementation can support the stomach.  Bromelain and papain come from pineapple and papaya, and are useful in aiding protein digestion.

            Constipation is commonly caused by poor diet, either inadequate fiber or fluid intake, or a severely restricted diet.  Poor bowel habits are another common cause of constipation, due to poor toilet training, a change in daily routine (i.e., travel), ignoring the urge to defecate.

            A common treatment for constipation is to increase bulk or fiber in the diet.  Fruits and vegetables as well as Psyllium and bran can increase stool bulk and promote peristalsis.  Commonly people turn to harsher means for relief.  Laxatives increase transit of stool through the intestinal tract.  They can interfere with the absorption of certain nutrients and drugs.  Wetting agents make the stool softer, by allowing water to be absorbed into it, thus increasing bulk, which increases peristalsis.  Osmotic agents and saline cathartics keep fluid in the intestine, increasing the volume of matter in the bowels and promoting elimination.  These may interfere with the patientís electrolyte and fluid balance.

            Most commonly used treatments of constipation are harmful when used over the long term.  Essential oil therapy is a more natural way to restore normal bowel function.

            Treating bowel problems with essential oils is an effective way to restore normal bowel function.

Essential oils for bowel problems. The best way to apply essential oils for any sort of bowel problems is by massage to the lower abdomen over the colon.  Once the appropriate oils are chosen, they can be applied in a carrier such as Grape seed or St. John's Wort oil and particularly Calendula infused oil which is very nourishing to the skin, or in a cream.

            Application should be twice a day, once in the evening and then first thing in the morning.  Each session should last 5 to 7 minutes.  Massage should follow the direction of peristalsis following the movement of food - clockwise start and the lower right part of the lower abdomen where the appendix might me and up the ascending colon, across the transverse colon and down the descending colon ending at the top of the pubis.

Massage Treatments with essential oils (EO), herbs and hydrosols:

Black Pepper (Piper nigrum).  The EO is a tonic and rubefacient, stimulates circulation, atonic muscles.  It balances digestive functions, treating constipation, sluggish bowels, diarrhea and flatulence. The herb/pepper is irritating to the bowel while the essential oil applied by massage is not.

Cinnamon Leaf (Cinnamomum zeylanicum).  A muscular and circulatory stimulant, digestive, carminative, stomachic.  Best for constipation due to debility, nervous exhaustion and stress-related conditions.

Sweet Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare).  A circulatory stimulant, tonic and stomachic, depurative.  It treats constipation, anorexia, colic and dyspepsia.  It should be avoided in pregnancy.

Ginger (Zingiber officinalis) a digestive and circulatory stimulant and tonic, laxative and carminative.  Can be used for loss of appetite.

Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi).  A lymphatic and digestive stimulant, tonic.  It treats muscle fatigue, nervous exhaustion and performance stress.

Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) A digestive and circulatory tonic, treats colic and indigestion.  Can be used for emotional factors like, anxiety, fatigue and nervous tension.  It should be avoided during pregnancy.

Lemon Verbena (Aloysia triphylla) A digestive tonic, specific for colitis.  The essential oil is expensive and should be reserved for inhalation or application by massage, the hydrosol can be taken internally as a tonic, several times a day from 4 p.m. on to bedtime.  It is also relaxing.

Sweet Marjoram (Origanum majorana).  A laxative, stomachic, tonic, hypotensive.  It can treat constipation, colic, and flatulence.  It is also a sedative, and can reduce anxiety, tension, and panic and childhood hyperactivity.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) stimulates circulation, a digestive, and stomachic and general tonic.  It can treat debility and nervous exhaustion.

Sage (Salvia officinalis). A laxative, stomachic, tonic and digestive.  Avoid during        pregnancy.


Essential oils and Hydrosols for Gastro-duodenal ulcer  or Bowel Problems:



Specific compounds



Anethum graveolens

Dill weed/seed

Stimulant, antispasmodic properties

Monoterpenes, monoterpenoid oxides, ketones

Oral & Massage

Tea and hydrosol can be taken in conjunction with e.o.


Artemisia dracunculus



Ethers (methyl chavicol), coumarin, monoterpenes

Oral & Massage

Tea and hydrosol can be taken in conjunction with e.o.

Cinnamomum zeylanicum

Cinnamon bark


Aldehydes (cinnamic aldehyde), monoterpenes

Oral & Massage

Always use in combo with a hepatic-protective EO (i.e. Rosmarinus off.)

Cistus ladanifer



Anti-hemorrhagic, healing agent

Monoterpenes, ketones, monoterpenols

Oral & Massage

Best used with  citrus or seed oils.

Citrus aurantium

Orange peel

Anti-inflammatory, healing agent

Esters (linalyl acetate), monoterpenol (linaloŲl)

Oral & Massage

Aromatic tonic for the digestive system.


Coriandrum sativum

Coriander seed

Anti-inflammatory, intestinal antiseptic


Oral & Massage

Tea and hydrosol can be  taken in conjunction  with e.o.


Cuminum cyminum

Cumin seed

Calming, strong anti-spasmodic, stimulating digestive

Monoterpenes and aldehydes

Oral & Massage

Recommended also as massage  oil for dyspepsia, gas and spasms in the gut.


Cupressus sempervirens


Healing agent, anti-inflammatory, astringent

Monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, ester, sesquiterpenol

Oral & Massage

Tea and hydrosol can be  taken in conjunction  with e.o.

Syzygium aromatica

Clove buds

Powerful anti-infective, bactericide

Phenols (eugenol), esters (eugenyl acetates)

Oral & Massage

Always use in combo with a hepatic-protective EO (i.e. Rosmarinus off.)

Hyssopus officinalis


Analgesic, healing agent

Ketones (isopinocamphone), oxide (1.8-cineole), monoterpenes (B-pinene)

Oral & Massage

Caution: use low dose (5-15%, it is hepatic-toxic and neurotoxic at a high dose)

Illicium verum

Star Anise

Healing agent and anti-spasmodic

Ethers (trans anethole?)

Oral & Massage

For colitis and spasms

Juniperus communis

Juniper berry

Healing agent, anti-degeneration

Monoterpenes (a-pinene), sesquiterpenes

Oral & Massage

Antiseptic tonic for the digestive system. Hydrosol is very useful.

Laurus nobilis


Bay leaf

Anti-infective, anti-degeneration (bad), anti-putrescence

Oxide (1.8 cineole), monoterpenes, esters, ether

Oral & Massage

Restructures, reorganizes the epithelial tissue. Hydrosol in addition to the e.o.

Matricaria recutita

Blue Chamomile oil

Duodenal anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic

Sesquiterpenes and azulene, sesquiterpenol, sesquiterpenol oxide

Oral & Massage

Indicated for woman who have stomachaches when they are feeling stressed


Excerpted from Aromatherapy Quarterly, Spring 1995, # 44, by Alan Barker and Linda Stowers

In addition, other pertinent material including articles in French as well as information gathered from Jeanne Rose classes in Aromatherapy -

Encopresis is the correct word and other spellings as listed below are probably incorrect. Encopresis is the soiling of the underwear with stool by children who are past the age of toilet training. ...


Bellman, M (1966) Studies on Ecopresis. Acta Paediatrica Scandinavica. Supplement No. 70.

Bucco, G.  Coping with Digestive Distress.  Health Products Business.  June 1999.

Doleys, D.M., Schwarx, M.S., Ciminero, A. R. (1981) Elimination Problems: Enuresis & Enopresis in Mash E.J. & Terdahl L.G. (Eds.) Behavioral Assessment of Childhood Disorders. 2nd Edition. New York , Guildford Press.

Fritz, G.K & Armbrust, J. (1982) Enuresis & Encopresis. Psychiatric Clinics of North America . Vol. 5, No. 2 August.

Grosjean, N. L'Aromatherapie Sante at Bien-etre par les Huiles Essentielles.

Prichard/Davies, Royal Marsden Hospital , Manual of Clinical Nursing Procedures.

Rose, Jeanne. 375Essential Oils and Hydrosols. Frog Ltd. Berkeley , CA 1999.

Rutter, M, Tizard, J & Whitmore, K. (eds.) 1970. Education, Health & Behavior. London . Longman.

Shelton , H. La Sante par les Combinasons Alimentaries. Nizt. 1955.

The Merck Manual.

Valnet, Aromatherapie, 1971 (Fayard).

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