Photo: Liliya Rodn

With the holidays right around the corner, we’re on the lookout for holistic ways to boost digestion and ward off bloat. In a new book Holistic Aromatherapy: Practical Self-Healing With Essential Oils, Marc J. Gian, L.Ac, provides tips on how to use essential oils to soothe the belly and promote a slow, mindful eating routine. This year, why not sneak a little Roman chamomile to the Thanksgiving table?

In traditional Chinese medicine, the spleen and the stomach are both associated with digestion. And you can use a wide array of essential oils to soothe them after meals: Patchouli, rosemary, cardamom, lemongrass, ginger and Scots pine, are a few great starter oils. All of these have the benefit of being warming, too.

While aromatherapy can enhance digestion and bring relief to many common complaints, holistic healing and holistic aromatherapy also rely on the individual to make positive lifestyle changes. Here are a few.

The keys of a mindful eating routine:

Take your time.

There are many things that you can do to stimulate proper digestion. One of the most beneficial things to do is to chew your food properly. Chewing food slowly, and up to 50 times per mouthful, makes food easier to digest.

Take a super-mindful approach.

Think about the time, effort, and labor that went into producing the food you eat. Chewing food slowly is a good way to respect the labor of the people who have helped to bring a meal to your plate.

Set a specific intention and incorporate oils.

When my clients are looking to make changes in their lives, I often advise them to inhale one essential oil three times a day, with the intention of making a change. The repetition of using the oil three times per day helps you to actualize intentions and form positive habits.

For digestive disorders, think about using oils that are beneficial for the digestive system, such as fennel, ginger, and cardamom. If your purpose is to stimulate digestion, use Roman chamomile or neroli.

TCM-approved essential oil recipes for digestion:

Roman chamomile tummy relaxer

Photo: Silvia Jansen


Ingredients

  • 5-mL blending bottle
  • 1 teaspoon jojoba oil
  • 5 drops Roman chamomile oil
  • Warm, moist compress
  • Towel

Preparation

  1. Fill the bottle with 1 teaspoon (5 mL) jojoba oil, then add the Roman chamomile oil, and shake for a few moments.
  2. Use the palm inhalation technique (rub the blend in between your palms and breathe in) to inhale one drop of the oil blend.
  3. Put three drops of the oil blend in the palms of your hand, and then gently massage 9 to 27 circles over your abdomen, adding a little extra jojoba oil to the abdomen if necessary. (Make sure to test the blend in a small patch first to make sure it doesn't irritate your skin.)
  4. Lie down on your back. Place a warm, moist compress on your solar plexus, making sure it covers all the way down to the liver. Cover the compress with a dry towel, and leave it in place until the compress cools.

-oil blend for warming the center

Ingredients

  • 5-mL blending bottle
  • 1 teaspoon jojoba oil
  • 3 drops sweet fennel oil (warms the center, strengthens the kidneys, and stimulates digestion)
  • 1 drop lemongrass oil (revives the spleen and stimulates digestion)
  • 1 drop ginger oil (warms the center)
  • Warm, moist compress
  • Towel

Preparation

  1. Fill the bottle with 1 teaspoon (5 mL) jojoba oil, then add the sweet fennel, lemongrass, and ginger oils and shake for a few moments.
  2. Put 10 drops (0.5 mL) of the oil blend in the palms of your hand and then gently massage 9 to 27 clockwise circles over your abdomen from left to right. (Make sure to test the blend in a small patch first to make sure it doesn't irritate your skin.)
  3. Lie down on your back. Place a warm, moist compress on your abdomen, cover it with a dry towel, and leave it in place until the compress cools.

Looking for some more holistic hacks to soothe your stomach? Check out an R.D.'s top 10 foods for great digestion, and keep tuning in to mbg over the next few weeks for gut health tricks galore.

Adapted from an excerpt from Holistic Aromatherapy: Practical Self-Healing With Essential Oils by Marc J. Gian, L.Ac, with permission from the publisher.

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