The main reason why I wrote this article was because I am a doctor and I have been researching on essential oils for constipation for some time now. I have read many articles but none of them really gave me any solid information on how to use these products properly or even what they are all about. So here it is, my take on essential oils for constipation.
What Are Essential Oils For Constipation?
Essential oils are extracts from plants which contain chemicals called terpenes. These terpenes act as natural antimicrobial agents and have anti-bacterial properties. They also help with digestion, promote healthy skin, hair and nails, relieve pain and inflammation, prevent infections and improve moods.
They have been used for centuries in medicine and traditional Chinese medicines (TCM) to treat everything from colds to cancer. They are considered safe and effective when used according to their label directions. However, there is still much debate among TCM practitioners about the safety of using essential oils for various conditions such as allergies, asthma, arthritis, diabetes mellitus etc. Some studies suggest that they may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals; others show no effect.
Essential oils are very concentrated liquids that have usually been distilled or extracted from plants. They are not the same as perfume oils and should never be confused with them. In high concentrations, perfume oils can cause allergic reactions.
Excessive consumption of essential oils over a long period of time can lead to impaired liver function. Some individuals may also experience allergic reactions to these oils, particularly those with nut allergies.
Some of the popular uses of essential oils are:
Muscle spasms and pain relief
Boosting the immune system and promoting healing
Promoting Digestive Health
How to use them?
These oils can be ingested, inhaled or applied topically.
Inhaling essential oils is probably the best way to enjoy their benefits quickly and effectively. It allows the scent of the oils reach deep into your lungs in just a few seconds and starts relaxing your brain and body. If you want to inhale an oil, simply place a drop of it on your hands, cup them around your nose and mouth and take a deep breath. Another way to do it is to place a few drops of the oil on a handkerchief, tissue or a cotton ball and inhale from it. You can also place several drops of the oil in a bowl of water and dip a cloth or cotton ball into it and inhale the vapors.
Applying the oils directly to the skin gets the absorbed into the body really quickly and starts working instantly. A word of caution, these oils are highly concentrated and you don’t need to use very much of it. Start with one or two drops of the oil at a time and see how your skin reacts to it. You can always add more if needed. Always dilute the essential oils in a carrier oil like coconut or olive oil before applying it on the skin.
These oils should never be taken orally. While some can be ingested in very small quantities without causing any harm, it is still best to not to take any chances. Also, oils that are ingested don’t produce the desired effect.
Using carrier oils when applying essential oils is a must. Different methods and ways of using the oils may be more suitable based on the condition you want to treat. These oils can be applied on their own without a carrier oil, but they may cause skin irritation.
How to store essential oils?
Most of these oils don’t require any special storage requirements. For long-term storage, you can add a couple of drops of the oil in a small bottle of a carrier oil like olive or coconut oil and refrigerate it. Make sure you mark the bottle clearly so that no one mistakenly thinks it is food or drink it.
If you are using the oils on a regular basis, then storing them in a cabinet or shelf in your bathroom or bedroom can also work just fine. However, if you are using a few drops of it at a time, buying smaller bottles to store the oils is more economical than buying one big bottle.
Are these oils safe?
Essential oils are concentrated extracts of plants that have therapeutic properties. Since they are highly concentrated, they should be used with care. While generally, they are quite safe when used as recommended, not everyone can tolerate them. If you have a sensitive skin or if you know that you do not tolerate a certain essential oil well, do not use it.
Do not apply the oils undiluted directly on the skin. Always dilute the essential oils before applying them on the skin. The best way to do this is by adding a few drops of the oil in a teaspoon of some carrier oil (coconut or olive oil) and then massaging it on the skin.
The undiluted oils can stain clothes and other fabric, so try not to get them on clothes, furniture or carpet. Also, oils like tea tree oil should not come in contact with the eyes as it can cause irritation. If this happens, immediately flush your eyes with cold milk and contact lens can be taken out if you are wearing any.
If you experience any allergic reaction or skin irritation while using these oils, discontinue use immediately. If the symptoms persist for more than a day after discontinuing use of the oils, see a doctor.
What to do if you get some oils in your eyes?
Colophony (which is a resin) and camphor are two EOs that are generally not used in aromatherapy since they should not come into direct contact with skin or eyes since they can cause severe irritation.
What are the safety concerns?
While most essential oils are relatively safe when used as recommended, there are a few exceptions, particularly when ingested.
Sources & references used in this article:
Effectiveness of aroma massage on advanced cancer patients with constipation: a pilot study by M Kim, JK Sakong, EJ Kim, EH Kim – Journal of Korean Academy of Nursing, 2005
Introducing abdominal massage in palliative care for the relief of constipation by TKT Lai, MC Cheung, CK Lo, KL Ng, YH Fung… – … Therapies in Clinical …, 2011 – Elsevier
Aromatherapy massage for joint pain and constipation in a patient with Guillian Barré by J Preece – Complementary Therapies in Nursing and Midwifery, 2002 – Elsevier
The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, Revised and Expanded: Over 800 Natural, Nontoxic, and Fragrant Recipes to Create Health, Beauty … by CM Shirreffs – Complementary Therapies in Nursing and Midwifery, 2001 – Elsevier
Essential oils used in aromatherapy: A systemic review by VA Worwood – 2016 – books.google.com
The effect of abdominal massage with aroma oils on constipation in elderly stroke patients by B Ali, NA Al-Wabel, S Shams, A Ahamad… – Asian Pacific Journal of …, 2015 – Elsevier