Digestion affects each of us at least three or even four times a day. When this is accompanied by abdominal pain, bloating, nausea... we speak of dyspepsia or food indigestion. In the majority of cases, this “liver crisis” is benign or temporary, explainable by stress, a meal that is too copious or too watery, or following viral gastroenteritis. If the disorders persist, and if no other cause is identified (taking certain medications, diagnosis of an underlying disease), we then speak of functional dyspepsia. There are also other pathologies of the digestive system such as gastroesophageal reflux, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, food intolerances and allergies, celiac disease... they can certainly be accompanied by dyspepsia, but they are not covered on this page, as they require specific additional advice. Otherwise, there are several natural solutions to provide relief and better digestion. They will be even more effective if you also take care of your lifestyle. This page was therefore designed with this global vision of health to help improve digestion in a sustainable way.

This article was updated on 11/01/2024

Top 5 natural remedies

1. To quickly relieve a “liver crisis”: peppermint essential oil in olfaction against nausea and the difficult aftermath of a party.
2. In case of heartburn: lemon essential oil to take at the end of a meal.
3. When digestive spasms are painful or stress-related: petit Grain Bigarade essential oil in abdominal massage, even for very young children.
4. For a digestive herbal tea: favor the Fennel with its aniseed taste
5. As a basic treatment for chronic disorders: the macerate of young rosemary shoots during 3 weeks

See a doctor quickly : if nothing can explain the problems (heavy meals, excessive alcohol consumption, stress, etc.), if the symptoms appear with the taking of a new medication, if there is no improvement beyond 48 hours, if you notice other unusual symptoms (fever, vomiting, intense abdominal pain, blood in the stools, weight loss)…

Don't forget to adapt your diet, limit the effects of stress and practice regular physical activity, but without excess.

Fast and powerful effects with essential oils

Why use essential oils?

As digestive disorders are often distressing and painful, it is legitimate to want to relieve them quickly. Hence the interest in using essential oils which have the ability to act on the most common symptoms such as nausea, bloating, heartburn, spasms or abdominal pain. Their properties effectively affect the entire digestive sphere: increase in salivary, gastric, pancreatic and intestinal secretions; reduction of intestinal gas (carminative property); cholagogue and/or choleretic effect promoting the evacuation and/or production of bile; reduction of inflammation, pain and spasms; anti-infectious and regulatory power of the intestinal microbiota…

The oral route is generally chosen to have rapid and powerful effects. In certain situations, such as abdominal spasms or nausea, applying it as a massage on the stomach or inhaling it will be as effective while being more flexible to use.

Essential oils also have the advantage of quickly relieving without having disruptive effects on the functioning of the digestive system, unlike “antacids” which are the medications most commonly used in cases of difficult digestion. However, if the problems persist beyond 48 hours or if they are accompanied by signs such as profuse vomiting, fever, weight loss, etc., a medical consultation is necessary.

In case of nausea, “hangover”, overeating, difficult aftermath of party

The essential oils to favor are those which will mainly support the functioning of the liver as peppermint essential oil (reserved for adults and adolescents) or lemon essential oil as well as other citrus essences such as Grapefruit and Sweet Orange.

  • From 6 years old. Orally. 1 drop in a teaspoon of honey or on a neutral tablet at the end of a meal. For 2 to 3 days maximum.
  • From 3 years. Inhaled. Breathe directly over the bottle. It is also possible to place a few drops on the wick of an inhaler or a tissue, to inhale as soon as the urge arises.
In case of bloating, flatulence and meteorism

The essential essential oils are the Noble Laurel or cardamom.

  • From 6 years old. Orally. 1 drop in a teaspoon of honey or on a neutral tablet at the end of a meal. For 2 to 3 days maximum.
In case of heartburn and heartburn

The quick reflex to have will be peppermint essential oil (reserved for adults and adolescents for occasional use) or lemon essential oil, more flexible to use.

  • From 6 years old. Orally. 1 drop in a teaspoon of honey or on a neutral tablet to take at the end of a meal. For 2 to 3 days maximum.
In case of spasms and abdominal pain

Several essential oils are known for their antispasmodic properties. THE Tropical basil or tarragon are reserved for adults and children over 6 years old. There Roman chamomile, THE Petit grain bigarade or the Fine or True Lavender will rather be used through the skin or in olfaction.

  • From 6 years old. Orally. 1 drop in a teaspoon of honey or on a neutral tablet at the end of a meal. For 2 to 3 days maximum.
  • From 3 years. Inhaled. Breathe directly over the bottle. It is also possible to place a few drops on the wick of an inhaler or a tissue, to inhale as soon as the urge arises.
  • From 3 months. In skin application. Dilute the essential oil to 5 to 10% in a vegetable oil (15 to 30 drops of EO in 9 mL of HV). Apply 2-3 drops of the mixture by massaging on the stomach

Herbal teas to relieve and detoxify

When to use herbal teas?

For people who like to take the time for herbal tea or those who cannot use essential oils, plant infusions are very interesting natural alternatives. They are certainly less concentrated than essential oils, but their effects on the digestive sphere are widely recognized. It is even one of their areas of predilection with many plants with antispasmodic, antiulcer, antinausea, cholagogue and choleretic properties... Taken occasionally after a meal, they will allow you to relieve digestive disorders and stomach aches, including those of nervous origin.

In cases of chronic functional dyspepsia, plants can also be used for around twenty days, by choosing specific plants. to carry out a more global drainage or detoxification cure.

Which plants to choose?
How to use them?

Plants can be used alone or in mixtures to take full advantage of their synergistic effects. In infusion : for a cup, pour simmering water (ideally at a temperature of 80-90°C) over a tablespoon of dry plants (3 to 5 leaves for bay leaf). Infusion time varies from 5 to 10 minutes

A global action on the digestive sphere with gemmotherapy

In which cases are bud macerates relevant?

Gemmotherapy will especially be interesting in the form of a cure in cases of chronic functional dyspepsia. Several bud macerates are in fact known to have stimulating or calming effects on the digestive sphere. Depending on the cause, it will be possible to act at different levels such as stress, hepatobiliary insufficiency, inflammatory conditions or an imbalance in the intestinal flora.

They are enough flexible to use, but given the presence of alcohol in their composition, bud macerates are not recommended for children under 3 years old and pregnant women.

Which macerates to choose?

Certain macerates are essential in case of digestive problems. Here is a selection with a summary of their specificities to help you choose, especially if it is a first use:

How to use them?

Start with a 3-week treatment with one of the bud macerates best suited to your area, followed by a one-week break.

  • Adults and adolescents : 5 to 15 drops per day in a glass of water (or pure), 15 minutes before a meal, for 3 weeks. Start with 5 drops and increase gradually (for example: 5 drops the first week, 10 the second and 15 the last).
  • Children over 3 years old : 1 drop per day for 10 kilos, starting with one drop and gradually increasing the dose (for example: a 9 year old child weighing 40 kilos can ingest up to 4 drops).

Secondly, it will be possible to take several buds together and regularly carry out maintenance treatments.

Hydrosols for a gentle and deep action

In which cases should hydrosols be preferred?

Hydrosols are perfect to pregnant women and children from an early age. Much less concentrated than essential oils, they are in fact more flexible to use. They nevertheless contain active molecules perceptible by their aromatic odor. For occasional use, hydrosols will be particularly appreciated by pregnant women because pregnancy is one of the factors favoring dyspepsia.

Quick and easy to use, hydrosols will also please to those who are in a hurry and do not have time to prepare a digestive herbal tea.

Which hydrosols to choose?
  • Peppermint hydrosol is a must in the digestive sphere. Particularly versatile, it can be used in the majority of disorders linked to dyspepsia: nausea, slow digestion, abdominal spasms, hepato-biliary insufficiency, etc.
  • For pregnant and breastfeeding women, we will replace Peppermint with noble Laurel hydrosol. As for babies and young children prone to stomach aches, the most appropriate will be roman Chamomile hydrosol.
  • In case of chronic dyspepsia, carrot hydrosol can be used in treatment as a drainer and regenerator of the hepato-biliary system. As a reminder, “detox” cures are not recommended during pregnancy, even with hydrosols.
How to use them?

To improve digestion and benefit from their benefits, hydrosols can be used orally, alone or in a mixture, occasionally or in courses of around twenty days for a more global action:

  • From 3 months : dilute 1 teaspoon in the bottle, preferably lukewarm.
  • For adults and adolescents : dilute 1 teaspoon of hydrosol in a glass of water, preferably lukewarm, twice a day.

Baking soda, an effective grandmother's remedy?

In what cases should it be used?

Baking soda is often proposed as natural solution for difficult digestion. It has the ability, by reducing excess acidity in the stomach, to relieve certain symptoms of dyspepsia such as heartburn and bloating. However, stomach problems are not always linked to hyperacidity.

The use of baking soda, like other antacid treatments, should therefore not be systematic, especially since their regular use can have side effects. By reducing the acidity of the stomach too much, they can in fact disrupt the gastric ecosystem, with consequences on the digestion of proteins, but also on the metabolism of vitamin B12... and promote the installation of bacteria such as helicobacter pylori involved in gastric ulcers. It is therefore preferable to limit baking soda to occasional uses. Otherwise, it is better to favor plant-based approaches which support the functioning of the stomach and the digestive system as a whole.

How to use it ?
For adults. Orally add a teaspoon in a glass of water to drink. To be used after a meal, occasionally.

Identify the most common causes

Among the most common causes of digestive problems are: tobacco, excess alcohol or coffee, certain medications (e.g. aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatories), etc. Difficulties in digestion can also be caused by psychological problems such as anxiety. Unless it is a one-off indigestion, all these factors should therefore be taken into account to prevent or limit the problems. Furthermore, it is important to remember that medical advice is required when the signs persist or worsen so as not to miss more serious causes requiring specific treatment.

It also exists lifestyle factors which clearly promote the appearance and maintenance of digestive disorders: stress, poor eating habits or lack of physical activity. Taking care of your lifestyle will therefore be essential for better digestion in a sustainable manner.

Limit the effects of stress

Stressful situations have numerous repercussions on the body in general and on the digestive system in particular with disturbances in gastric secretion, transit and the microbiota, intestinal spasms, etc. These disturbances are in particular the consequence of stimulation of the sympathetic system. All the methods used to help manage stress better will therefore help to digest better. Everyone can choose the one that suits them best based on their tastes and lifestyle. The ideal would be to put them into practice before meals to promote a state of prior relaxation, conducive to good digestion.

Meditation, deep breathing, sophrology… all these anti-stress techniques have been the subject of studies to validate their effectiveness. Those in a hurry will choose the olfaction of essential oils or cardiac coherence which in a few minutes allows you to significantly reduce stress levels by stimulating the parasympathetic system.

Adapt your diet

  • Take the time to chew, to savor, to taste…to make food salivate, start the digestion process and facilitate the work of the stomach;
  • Prefer small light meals at regular times, rather than feasts that are too fatty or too copious.
  • Give pride of place to fiber-rich foods (fruits, vegetables, legumes, cereals and (semi) wholemeal flours, oilseeds, etc.) gradually increasing the quantities to avoid getting the opposite effect with abdominal pain, bloating, transit disorders.
  • Add aromatic herbs to your dishes. Most of them are the same plants as those offered in essential oils or herbal teas for their digestive properties: basil, coriander, fennel, bay leaf, rosemary, etc.
  • Limit coffee, carbonated, acidic or alcoholic drinks.
  • Avoid as much as possible fast foods, overly refined foods, industrial dishes and pastries, sources of “bad” fats which are generally harmful to the digestive system and intestinal flora.

Practicing physical activity

Regular physical activity is widely recognized to have positive effects on health. Concerning the digestive system, its benefits are multiple, both physically and mentally. Indeed, by contraction of intestinal muscles and activation of peristalsis, physical activity promotes good digestion and good transit. It is particularly recommended for sedentary individuals suffering from bloating, and especially constipation. In addition, practicing physical activity also allows you to reduce stress levels.

However, it is important to clearly distinguish physical activity from sport, especially if it is practiced intensively. Indeed, excess physical activity can, on the contrary, promote digestive disorders and amplify them through stress in the event of competition. We will therefore favor “gentle” practices such as walking, cycling, yoga… preferably after a meal, like the famous “digestive walk”.

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About these tips

This aromatherapy article was written by Théophane de la Charie, author of the book “Treat yourself with essential oils”, accompanied by a multidisciplinary team made up of pharmacists, biochemists and agronomists. 

La Compagnie des Sens and its teams do not encourage self-medication. The information and advice provided comes from a reference bibliographic database (books, scientific publications, etc.). They are given for information purposes, or to suggest avenues for reflection: they should in no case replace a diagnosis, consultation or medical follow-up, and cannot engage the liability of the Compagnie des Sens.