Gastroenteritis is an inflammation and irritation of the digestive tract.
Its frequency of occurrence in the United States and Canada makes it second only to the common cold.
What is the cause?
While there are many causes of gastroenteritis, the most common ones are infecting organisms such as viruses, bacteria or parasites, which most often require drug therapies to cure. Other known causes are food poisoning, allergies, certain medications, stressful situations and overindulgence of alcohol.
What are the common symptoms?
Most people experience 2 or more of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, headache, low grade fever, and muscle aches. These symptoms can last from several hours/days (viral) up to well over a week (for parasitic and bacterial infections).
For the milder cases of gastroenteritis, treatment with certain essential oils used in a variety of ways can be helpful. A back and abdominal massage could offer physical relaxation as well as the benefits of the essential oils chosen and could help to give the immune system a bit of a boost initially.
A reflexology type massage (utilizing essential oils in the massage cream used on the feet) by a qualified professional (focusing on the areas in the feet that correspond to the gastrointestinal tract) can be very helpful. It’s also recommended to ask questions while being treated so you know which areas to massage yourself once home.
Mix up a blended massage oil to keep on hand to massage into the abdomen and small of the back 30 minutes before eating. A suggestion of a possible blend would be 5 drops each of basil (antispasmodic, gastric spasms), oregano (powerfully anti-viral and anti-bacterial, cytophilatic) and lavender (calming, antiseptic properties) added to 30 mls of a carrier oil.
The same blend could also be dropped onto a tissue (1 drop each) and placed inside a zip lock bag for inhalation throughout the day or used (2 drops each) in a full tub of warm water for a healing soak daily.
Addition of your essential oils should be delayed until you are ready to enter the water to ensure you are receiving the maximum benefits from the oils. Once you have dropped the essential oils onto the surface of the water, swish your hand through it to ensure your oils are dispersed evenly throughout.
Other essential oils known for their antiviral and antibacterial properties are eucalyptus (globulus and citridora), garlic lavender, pine, tea tree and thyme. Individual preferences for certain scents will vary, so it's a good idea to experience as many of the oils as possible to ensure you are using a blend that you feel comfortable with and enjoy (otherwise, you will be less likely to use it!)
This article originally appeared in the Herbal Collective magazine.