There are lots of things that can affect your stomach. From foods and allergies to infections and emotions, they all gather there. One very common digestive problem is acid reflux. How do you use natural remedies like essential oils for acid reflux? Why would you even go for Aromatherapy instead of medicines?
Be sure to read this post, to find out the answer to the above-mentioned questions and more. Here’s what you’ll be reading about:
- How exactly can essential oils help with the reflux or GERD?
- The pros and cons of some of the best aromatic oils for acid reflux.
- How to use these potent essences to your benefit and wellbeing.
- A few simple blend recipes for you to try right away to get some relief from your symptoms.
- Causes, triggers, and symptoms of acid reflux and GERD.
- The importance of a diet in managing reflux and GERD (as per study results).
- A few safety tips about the use of essential oils. Plus some tips to prevent reflux in general.
Best Essential Oils for Acid Reflux or GERD (Pros & Cons, How to Use, and Recipes)
Acid reflux is a very common digestive problem. Almost everybody experiences it at some point in their lives, more often than not. You may get it right after you’ve had a larger or fattier meal, drank a soda, and so on.
Is acid reflux the same as GERD? Acid reflux is also known as heartburn but it’s not quite the same as GERD. They are, however, tightly connected, in which case, a bit of confusion is normal.
The stomach is guarded by a ring of muscles that make the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). It opens up so that the ball of food can pass through. Once it passed through, the esophageal sphincter closes back.
Sometimes, for various reasons, the LES doesn’t close up properly. That’s when gastric acid flows upward, from the stomach to the esophagus. The latter is the tube that connects the mouth with the stomach.
The stomach is very well adapted for chlorhydric acid, which is what breaks down food. But the esophagus is not adapted at all. Because of this reason, the esophagus stings and burns when the acid touches it.
Thus, when the stomach acid flows up into the esophagus, you have acid reflux or heartburn.
If this happens regularly (more than twice a week), you have GERD. GERD is a gastroesophageal reflux disease. It’s a more serious complication of acid reflux.
How Can Essential Oils Help with Acid Reflux?
Some professionals consider Aromatherapy an alternative and/or complementary therapy. This means that it must have therapeutic and medicinal effects. Up to a point, that is true.
There is a vast anecdotal knowledge and history about the use of essential oils in treating ailments. However, today, medicine is very advanced. As such, it’s hard to ignore conventional treatments that work.
It’s true, all pills and drugs have side effects, just like essential oils do too. The latter, however, are milder or close to none. It’s because of that that many people want to try more natural remedies for their acid reflux and GERD.
So, Aromatherapy has gained a lot of interest lately. Luckily, these aromatic oils do not disappoint.
Medical research is very poor in this area, but separate studies have shown they can work.
Essential oils are very complex plant extracts. They affect the body and mind on many levels, through many pathways.
Using essential oils for acid reflux, you can expect them to be:
- Anti-inflammatory. Decrease inflammation and swelling, which also reduces the pain.
- Stimulant. Strengthen the immune system and stimulate other physiological processes.
- Diuretic. Promote urine production and toxin elimination.
- Circulatory. Improve the blood flow throughout the body and the affected area. More blood delivers more oxygen and nutrients and speeds up healing.
- Digestive. They promote the production of bile and other enzymes. They help to break down the food more effectively. This effect is also known as cholagogue.
- Analgesic. Decrease the level of pain by preventing the pain receptors to send signals to the brain.
- Antispasmodic. Soothe muscle contractions (spasms) and relieve tension.
- Wound-healing effects.
- Anti-stress and anxiety.
Of course, some essences are better at soothing pain, for example. Others are better at killing bacteria, improving your mood or helping you sleep.
The list can go on because each oil is unique. And even so, many of them do share similar characteristics and therapeutic effects. I told you they’re complex…
What is the best essential oil for acid reflux?
Actually, there are more than one essential oil for reflux. There are a lot more than the three I chose to talk about too. But they’re not all tested or proven effective in some way yet.
Some of the best essential oils for acid reflux or GERD are:
You’ve probably read more about Peppermint, Lemon, and Ginger, or some other combinations. They are great too, but I’m focusing on those found useful. Check out their pros and cons below.
1) Peppermint Essential Oil
Botanical name: Mentha piperita.
- This oil is a very popular remedy for digestion problems. Many people use Peppermint oil for heartburn.
- Animal tests confirmed that Peppermint can reduce contractions in the GI tract. Researchers concluded that Peppermint oil can relax the smooth muscles of the stomach (and colon). It appears to be doing that by reducing calcium influx. This means that when using Peppermint oil for heartburn, it can also decrease the tension in LES.
- The oil can strengthen the immune system and kill bad bacteria in the gut.
- It can also soothe the pain and muscle spasms.
- Peppermint is an anti-inflammatory and cholagogue. This means it can speed up digestion by increasing the production of bile.
- Pay very close attention to this oil if you suffer from seizures or epilepsy. Peppermint contains substances that can trigger a seizure.
- It has estrogen-like effects, meaning it can interact with hormonal treatments.
- Large amounts (for long periods of time) can be toxic to the kidneys and liver.
- Avoid its use if you suffer from kidney problems or hypertension.
Why I like it:
The oil of Peppermint is great for so many things! You can use it to get rid of headaches and migraines. Or you can use it to improve your breathing. Peppermint showed hair growth potential as well.
2) Grapefruit Essential Oil
Botanical name: Citrus paradisi.
- Studies show that d-limonene has a gastric acid neutralizing effect. D-limonene makes about 97% of the Grapefruit oil. Thus, that makes Grapefruit great for the relief of heartburn and GERD symptoms.
- Grapefruit is a great essential oil for acid reflux. Besides neutralizing the acid, it also supports normal peristalsis. This refers to the action of muscles contracting to move the food through the digestive tract.
- Some studies also show the oil to have chemopreventive effects against some cancer forms. The research in this area is far from finished, though.
- Grapefruit essential oil for acid reflux (GERD) is a good antioxidant and disinfectant.
- The oil can also detoxify the liver and stops/prevents nausea.
- Grapefruit can increase the blood pressure.
- Most Grapefruit oils are cold-pressed, which means they’re phototoxic. Avoid sun exposure for at least 12 hours after using it topically.
- The oil has cortisone-like effects. All hormone-like effects can interact with hormone-based treatments.
- Large amounts of Grapefruit (used over long periods of time) can cause toxicity to the kidneys.
Why I like it:
Grapefruit oil can also dissolve blood cholesterol and gallstones that contain cholesterol. It’s great against cellulite, and can also improve the aspect of skin and hair. It regulates the sebum production, among so many others.
3) Neroli Essential Oil
Botanical name: Citrus aurantium var. Amara (orange blossoms)
- Why is Neroli among the best essential oils for acid reflux, you may wonder. It is so because there are plenty of studies about it.
- First, some studies on menopausal women found it very beneficial. Researchers saw a lower blood pressure and improved pulse rate in those women.
- It also seemed to improve the endocrine system. Neroli did so by increasing cortisol and estrogen concentrations.
- Women in labor also experienced a decreased anxiety level.
- Also, using Neroli essential oil for GERD and reflux can also take away the pain. It’s been proven to have analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects.
- Neroli oil can improve the blood circulation and speed up recovery. It can also stimulate the functions of the liver and pancreas.
- People with asthma should talk to a doctor before using Neroli oil.
- It’s too strong to be diffused alone. It’s best to dilute it a bit with some other citrus oil. Bergamot, Lemon, and Mandarin will preserve the scent of Neroli pretty much intact.
- The oil is thought to have cortisone-like effects.
Why I like it:
The beautiful scent of Neroli is very uplifting and anti-depression. It is a great aphrodisiac that can also stimulate the healing of damaged tissue. Neroli essential oil is great as an anti-aging ingredient too.
A small guide to other essential oils for acid reflux or GERD
Acid reflux and GERD can affect anyone, from the youngest to the oldest. This includes pregnant women too.
Many pregnant women want to know what essential oils for acid reflux to use during pregnancy. I do not recommend using any essential oil for heartburn in pregnancy until you’ve talked to the doctor.
All essential oils are made of very small active molecules. These molecules may penetrate the placenta and affect the baby’s development. This is known as a teratogenic effect.
Not all aromatic oils can do that, but the matter is still in debate among many health professionals. But some oils can have teratogenic effects.
Essential Oils for Acid Reflux in Babies:
- Roman Chamomile
Again, avoid using any essential oil with a baby without talking to the doctor first! They are very sensitive to strong substances.
Essential Oils for Indigestion:
- Sweet Basil
- Tea Tree
- Roman Chamomile
Essential Oils for Barrett’s Esophagus:
- German Chamomile
- Blue Tansy
Barrett’s esophagus is a serious complication of GERD. It has high risks of developing into cancer. You must seek medical care as soon as you notice your GERD is getting worse.
Other essential oils for acid reflux and GERD:
- Sweet Orange
- Green Mandarin
- Sweet Marjoram
- Black Pepper
How to Use Essential Oils for Acid Reflux (GERD)
Aromatic oils are very concentrated plant liquids. This means they can never be applied neat (undiluted) to the skin. Some of them have such a strong smell that needs to be diluted even for diffusion.
If you apply undiluted essential oil for acid reflux to the skin, the skin can get:
This doesn’t happen often though, but the risk is quite high. Even those oils considered safe to use neat, in time, can sensitize the skin. Once it becomes sensitized, the skin area will always react to the oil or its compounds.
For topical application, you should always mix your essential oils with a carrier oil.
The dose depends on many factors. The age, overall health, other illnesses, and treatments must all be taken into account.
Generally speaking, you can mix 6 – 25 drops of essential oils for acid reflux into an ounce of carrier oil.
These topical essential oil blends for heartburn must be applied to the stomach area. Use circular, clockwise movements until the oils are properly absorbed.
You can repeat 2 – 3 times a day or after every meal. Try not to use a digestive blend for more than 10 continuous days for each “crisis”.
Another great way to get relief from acid reflux is by diffusing essential oils.
Inhalation ensures that you get up to 70% of the oil molecules into your body. This is the fastest way to feel the therapeutic effects of Aromatherapy.
You can inhale directly from the bottle or a cotton pad. You can also use steam inhalations and aromatic baths.
The best at it, however, is the essential oil diffuser. They use different technologies to break down and disperse the oil molecules into the room.
The best oil diffusers are nebulizers because they don’t use heat or water. Thus, the therapeutic properties of the oils remain intact.
The next best device for diffusion is the ultrasonic diffuser. These use water, which may dilute the effects of the oils a bit.
How? The ultrasonic sound and membrane break down not only the oils but the water too. Thus, tiny water droplets will attach to the oil molecules. They will weigh heavier and fall down faster.
Therefore, they’ll stay suspended for a little while and you may not inhale as much as necessary. Ultrasonics are safe and easy to use, and actually better for beginners.
When it comes to the internal use of essential oils for acid reflux, that’s not a wise thing to do.
Unless a doctor gave you the right amount of oil to ingest, it can be very dangerous. Too much, even taken in capsules, can harm the sensitive lining of the stomach.
I’ve seen many bloggers suggesting taking oil drops with water. Well, essential oils are heavier than water (even though they’re not proper oils like carriers). This means they will not mix with the water.
If they don’t mix, the water will pass into the stomach easily. All that while the essential oils will remain stuck to the mucous membrane of the esophagus.
During reflux, the stomach acid damages that membrane. Thus, the oils won’t do any good either. But chances are they will burn and irritate the esophagus further.
In conclusion, don’t try to drink essential oils for reflux and GERD “diluted” with water.
doTERRA Essential Oils for Acid Reflux?
I know there are a lot of doTERRA fans out there because I get lots of questions about it.
What doTERRA oil is good for acid reflux? Any of the oils I mentioned earlier is great for acid reflux and GERD. doTERRA doesn’t make special or separate essential oils for reflux.
What they do have different are proprietary blends that target digestive problems. One such blend is called DigestZen. It’s a mixture of Anise, Peppermint, Ginger, and Caraway oils. There are also Coriander, Tarragon, and Fennel essential oils in it.
These are all good doTERRA essential oils for acid reflux and GERD. Some, however, can be dangerous for certain people.
Caraway, Peppermint, and Fennel are just a few. They can interact with hormone-dependent treatments or trigger seizures, among others.
Do a thorough research for each individual oil in that blend to make sure you’re safe to use it.
If you’re a Young Living fan, they also have a proprietary blend. It’s called Di-Gize and contains a few extra essences than DigestZen. Those essences are Juniper, Lemongrass, and Patchouli.
The same above-mentioned precautions are valid for this YL blend too.
Essential Oil Recipes for Acid Reflux (GERD)
Time to get practical and soothe those GERD and heartburn symptoms! It’s very easy to mix essential oils for GERD with carrier oils.
You just have to remember not to exceed 4-5 oils per blend. Too many might overwhelm your body’s immune system.
Topical Essential Oil Blend for Acid Reflux and GERD
- German Chamomile essential oil: 2 drops
- Roman Chamomile essential oil: 2 drops
- Peppermint essential oil: 2 drops
- Grapefruit essential oil: 4 drops
- Sweet Almond/Jojoba oil: 1 Oz (30ml)
Mix and shake the blend well before each use, and apply as recommended earlier. (See the “how to use” section for details).
Heartburn, GERD, and Gastritis Aromatherapy Blend
- Peppermint essential oil: 3 drops
- Basil essential oil: 3 drops
- Oregano essential oil: 2 drops
- Carrier oil (of your choice): 1 Oz (30ml)
Feel free to increase the amount if you think it’s necessary. But first, you should consult with your doctor to make sure it’s safe.
Healing & Calming Essential Oil Diffuser Blend for Acid Reflux
- Neroli essential oil: 10 drops
- Petitgrain essential oil: 10 drops
- Sweet Orange essential oil: 15 drops
- Lavender essential oil: 5 drops
Mix these drops together and keep the oils stored in a dark colored glass bottle. Use only a few drops in your diffuser, whatever the model.
Still, avoid candle oil burners because the heat can destroy many of their properties. Or if you do use them, keep the diffuser/candle on for up to 10 minutes. You can diffuse essential oils every 2 or more hours, in well-ventilated rooms.
Avoid sleeping with the diffuser on. Essential oils can saturate the air and lead to poisoning, headaches, and/or nausea.
Read more about Aromatherapy diffusion here:
- How to Use Essential Oils in a Diffuser (A Beginner’s Guide and FAQ)
- How Does an Essential Oil Diffuser Work? What You Need to Know
- Best Glass Essential Oil Diffusers (FAQ, Reviews, and Blends)
Causes, Triggers, and Symptoms of Acid Reflux, plus the Importance of Diet and Tips
When it comes to the digestive tract, there are plenty of ailments with similar symptoms.
Now you know that acid reflux or heartburn can be occasional and stay like that. Still, if it happens on a frequent basis, it’ll turn into GERD.
Yet, acid reflux or GERD is not the same as gastritis. The first two affect the esophagus, while gastritis affects only the stomach.
If left untreated, acid reflux turns into GERD. GERD can also cause complications and turn into:
- Esophagitis – the inflammation of the esophagus.
- Or Barrett’s esophagus. What happens is that the mucous membrane that covers the esophagus turns into a different tissue. That tissue will be like the lining of the stomach, which is not normal.
Acid Reflux or GERD Causes and Triggers
A stomach abnormality called hiatal hernia is the main cause of GERD. Still, many people can develop GERD or suffer from acid reflux because of:
- Big meals. The combination of lying down after a big meal can trigger acid reflux much easier.
- Eating late at night or right before bedtime.
- Alcohol, coffee, soda, and even teas.
- Spicy or acidic foods (garlic, onion, cayenne peppers, vinegar, tomatoes, etc.)
- Fatty, processed foods.
- Cigarette smoke.
- Obesity or overweight.
- Pills and drugs.
These are causes of acid reflux, but they are also triggering factors. If you get the occasional heartburn, it can be any one of these triggers.
You’ll usually know it very fast. How? The symptoms start quite fast after eating or drinking something.
How Does Acid Reflux or GERD Feel Like (Symptoms)
- The usual heartburn is what you feel when the stomach acid touches the soft protective membrane of the esophagus. Both the chest pain and burns make a heartburn.
- Bitter and acidic taste in the mouth. If this keeps on happening, the acid can affect the teeth too, not just the esophagus.
- Choking or coughing, with a burning sensation.
- Difficulty swallowing because of throat irritation.
- Hoarse voice.
- Sleeping problems.
More serious symptoms can be vomiting (with blood) or dark-colored stools. Losing weight can also be one of the more serious symptoms of acid reflux or GERD.
Untreated, the acid reflux can also cause lung and respiratory problems.
The Role of Diet in Acid Reflux Management
Researchers found that lifestyle and diet changes make a huge difference in managing your acid reflux.
Foods, drinks, sleeping habits, etc. can cause reflux and GERD. Thus, it makes sense that by avoiding them you’ll feel better.
One medical trial found that the foods and the hours at which they’re consumed can make matters worse.
It seems that most patients experienced acid reflux and GERD symptoms after eating meals and foods that were:
Except for sweets, a meal can be spicy, fatty, and fried. So you can see how much of a strain that is on the stomach and its sphincter muscles.
People with acid reflux should eat small meals along the day, more than three times.
The last meal should be somewhere around three hours before going to bed. Just one single big meal a day, usually in the evening, is especially dangerous.
Applying or inhaling essential oils for acid reflux can soothe and improve your state. But they can’t do wonders if you continue with the same diet and habits.
Also, it seems that Peppermint tea can also contribute to reflux. Peppermint tea is usually soothing, especially when you have an upset stomach.
When you suffer from acid reflux, however, it can actually make things worse. Drinking a cup of Peppermint tea, from time to time, should not be a problem. The problem starts when you overdrink it.
But, what is good to drink for acid reflux, right? You can drink plenty of purified water, for one.
You can also drink herbal teas like ginger and caffeine-free teas. Licorice is also said to help soothe the stomach. Try some vegetable milk instead of full-fat cow’s milk.
Now you also have an idea of what the best things to drink when you have acid reflux are. Try to stay away from citrus juice, vinegar, coffee, and alcohol.
Tips to Prevent Acid Reflux
(And Safety Measures for Aromatherapy Use)
As you can see, there are quite a few measures you can take to prevent acid reflux.
- East small meals, 4 – 5 times a day.
- Avoid trigger foods and drinks.
- Avoid or quit smoking.
- If the problem is serious, sleep with your head raised. This way you won’t encourage the LES to open up and let the acid into the esophagus.
- Lose weight.
- Avoid lying down after you’ve eaten. You should rest, if possible, in a comfortable chair.
- Take the medicines your doctor prescribed, but tell him about essential oils for acid reflux too.
- Diffuse aromatic oils regularly and relax while you’re inhaling them. This new habit will tell your brain to always associate relaxation with those scents.
- Eat lots of pickled foods, yogurt, kefir, etc. They contain natural probiotics that soothe the stomach and the esophagus.
- When you use essential oils for acid reflux and GERD, make sure you dilute them first.
- Avoid taking them internally, unless you have your doctor’s approval.
- Make sure the oils don’t interact with your other medicines.
- Don’t use Aromatherapy around babies, children, pets, and elderly. For them, you’ll need the doctor’s or vet’s approval.
- Pregnant women should also talk to their doctor first.
It’s very annoying to feel discomfort right after you’ve enjoyed your meal. Not to mention how much of a mood buster it is when you’re also at work.
Regardless of how bad it feels, acid reflux may cause serious health complications if left untreated.
This means you must take some measures as soon as you can. You should have your doctor examine you first and then give essential oils for acid reflux and GERD a try. Right after you’ve told your doctor about it, of course.
Have you ever tried any Aromatherapy remedy for your acid reflux? Did you feel better afterward?