People Are Using Essential Oils To De-Bloat—But Does That Really Work?

Women's Health |

By Korin Miller; Photography by Pexels

We asked the experts if this trend is legit.

Essential oils are known to help people relax (and smell awesome), but devotees of the oils use them for a bunch of other things, including boosting memory, increasing energy, and treating bruises. But there’s one treatment people are exploring that you’ve probably never heard of: using essential oils to help reduce bloating and gas. Yup, people are rubbing oils on their bellies and adding the stuff to their food to help depuff.

First, the basics on bloating: People can bloat for a number of reasons, but dehydration and over-eating something salty tend to be the biggest culprits, New York-based registered dietician Jessica Cording says. When you eat a lot of salty stuff, it upsets the potassium-sodium balance in your body, so your cells retain water, she explains. Eating too fast, eating fatty foods, quickly upping your fibre intake, and eating certain cruciferous veggies can also make you gassy or bloated, says Julie Upton, registered dietician, co-founder of nutrition website Appetite for Health.

READ MORE: A Nutritionist’s Guide To Beating Bloat

Though there’s not much science linking essential oils to de-puffing, Upton says there is some evidence that ginger, peppermint, and chamomile can be good for your digestive tract. She adds that essential oils made of these herbs may be beneficial, too.

Beth Warren, registered dietician and nutritionist, founder of Beth Warren Nutrition and author of Living a Real Life With Real Food, agrees. “It is thought, but not well researched, that certain essential oils can help with bloating and gut issues when used in conjunction with other therapies such as probiotics,” she says. “The high concentration of the herb, such as peppermint, and the oil-like consistency in food-grade essential oils, is thought to help lessen symptoms.”

READ MORE: Could FODMAPS Be The Reason Why You’re Always Bloated

Cording says there might be something to it, but she wouldn’t recommend it as a first line of defence. Instead, Cording recommends drinking plenty of water and trying to add potassium-rich foods into your diet, like avocado, spinach, and tomatoes. Foods that have plenty of fluid like cucumber and asparagus can also be helpful, she says, noting that asparagus has an enzyme in it that specifically helps with the digestive process. It’s also a good idea to keep a food log to see if any foods in particular are tripping you up, Upton says. Daily probiotics might help, too, Warren says: “They can help grow good bacteria in your gut to help digest foods.”

Of course, you can try essential oils, but keep your expectations low. “I don’t think it’s going to magically help someone feel less bloated,” Cording says. And, if you find that you’re feeling bloated a lot and nothing is working, she recommends touching base with your doctor. It could be due to an underlying medical condition.

Feeling bloated? Here’s 8 foods to eat tonight to de-bloat by tomorrow, plus here’s 9 fruits you didn’t know could cause your tummy to bloat.

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