Gut health plays a critical role in your ability to not only digest nutrients, but anti-inflame, detoxify and heal your body. Your gut is the main doorway into the body. It is the channel for both healing nutrients to be absorbed and pathogens to be blocked. If this doorway isn’t working properly, the good things that you need for your body to heal are not properly assimilated and the bad things that you do not want in your system are not blocked from entry.
Gut infections and inflammation can set the stage for chronic systemic inflammation which contributes to many chronic health conditions, including food allergies, eczema, autism, ADD/ADHD, Sensory Processing Issues, IBS, asthma, celiac disease, diabetes, and auto immunity.
Fortunately, if you can identify early warning symptoms and heal the gut before any serious complications arise, you can often avoid larger problems. The following symptoms often correlate with gut inflammation:
A healthy gut controls what gets into your body and your bloodstream. Everything that enters your body – through your mouth, nose, eyes and even ears – all drain into your digestive track.
Your gut lining plays an important role as a discerning gatekeeper as directed by the epithelial cells lining the small intestine which are connected by semi-permeable tight junctions. These tight junctions block the bad guys — undigested food, bacteria, fungus, yeast, parasites and other toxins – while the microvilli on the tips of the epithelial cells selectively assimilate and absorb the good guys — the vital nutrients the body needs.
When digestion works optimally, these tight junctions stay closed, selectively screening all organisms and only letting nutrients pass into the blood stream. These tight junctions block all unwanted microbes and toxins from entering the body, while selectively allowing nutrients to be absorbed.
When digestion or the integrity of the gut lining is compromised, inflammation sets in. Spacing between the tight junctions inflames and expands, allowing pathogens and other toxins into the bloodstream. This triggers an immune response that fuels further inflammation, creating a vicious cycle of chronic and systemic inflammation.
Systemic Inflammation is often the underlying issue for most health conditions, including auto immunity, food intolerances, anxiety, depression, poor focus and concentration, digestive dysfunction, high blood pressure, fluid retention, asthma, dementia, cramps and ADD/ADHD.
Some examples of inflammation correlating with disease include:
Often, when inflammation becomes chronic, there are often no discernible symptoms until there is a loss of function.
Inflammation begins in the gut and spreads elsewhere through the body. Therefore, if you can heal inflammation at its root – in the gut – you can heal it elsewhere in the body.
Unwinding this viscous cycle begins with supporting healthy digestion, the integrity of the intestinal mucosal lining and the ability of the body to shift out of the chronic inflammatory cycle.
Most healing remedies are assimilated through your digestive track – supplements, food, and many herbal remedies that are ingested can only be properly absorbed and assimilated when your gut is healthy.
Compromised gut function compromises your ability to assimilate remedies through your gut lining. This might explain why research suggests that small intestine mucosal recovery 2 years after following a gluten-free diet was only 34% in celiac patients. When the gut is compromised, healing nutrients are not fully assimilated.
This is where smelling or topically applying plant nutrients from essential oils can provide a powerful point of entry to your body. Topically applied or inhaled essential oil remedies can help restore healthy digestive function, repair damage to the intestinal lining, restore gut integrity and close the tight junctions. Read more about that click here.
Plants, and their concentrated essences contained in essential oils, contain healing compounds that are especially powerful in healing the gut. For example, short chain fatty acids (SCFA) are metabolized during the digestive process when friendly gut bacteria ferment plant fiber in your colon. SCFA serve as the main source of energy for the cells lining your colon and promote the development of a robust immune system.
SCFAs help modulate various biological responses that include inflammation, oxidative stress, both of which are critical to maintaining immune health. Flavonoids are able to cross the blood-brain barrier path through passive diffusion and turn on pathways in the gut that then reduce inflammation in the brain. SCFA also play an important role supporting your metabolism, restoring intestinal homeostasis and balancing parasympathetic and sympathetic activity.
Clove essential oil is high in flavonoids which have anti-inflammatory and anesthetic properties that make it an especially efficient and effective remedy for various types of pain and for reducing inflammation in the gut and the brain. (Study) and (Study)
These SCFA – including butyrate or butyric acid, propionate and acetate — are known as post-biotics because anytime the microbes in your gut digest food and create a new active ingredient, that new active ingredient is called a post-biotic. Increased plant diversity increases the product of post-biotics. As diversity shrinks, post-biotics do not get produced at high enough levels to help heal your gut and boost your immune system. More about this here.
“If you are not eating enough vegetables or don’t have enough good bacteria, you won’t make enough Butyrate. This is one of the important reasons to eat a variety of vegetables, to supply the starches needed for our good bacteria to feed off and make butyrate,” according to Tom O’Brien, author of the Autoimmune Fix. Read more about fixing your gut here.
The first key to healing the gut is repairing the intestinal mucosal lining, the innermost layer of the gastrointestinal tract that serves as a selectively permeable barrier, helping to establish healthy gut flora so nutrients can be absorbed. It also helps you process, neutralize, and eliminate toxic substances that can activate the immune system and turn on inflammation.
Your intestinal mucosa serves as a physical barrier and the first line of defense between your body and any pathogens you might swallow, such as such as microorganisms, toxins, and antigens, and the epithelial layer of the small intestine. As such, it helps to prevent large particles from contacting the epithelial cell layer while allowing small molecules to pass. The mucus also facilitates passage of the luminal contents along the length of the intestines.
In addition to its protective function, your intestinal mucosa supports the optimal environment for healthy gut flora which is necessary to feed the cells of the intestinal lining, known as enterocytes. In turn, the enterocytes are responsible the selective uptake of beneficial nutrients, making it critical for proper digestion and assimilation.
Healthy flora competes with potential pathogens for space and food, helping to maintain the healthy balance of bacteria in the intestines. If your healthy gut bacteria are already using all the resources available, there’s nothing left to feed the bad guys. This also helps to keep opportunistic bacteria in check. When beneficial bacteria are depleted, opportunistic pathogens can proliferate and overgrow. (More here )
Healthy gut microbiome (or gut flora) also help to modulate the inflammatory immune response and neutralize toxic substances. In her book, “Gut and Psychology Syndrome”, Dr. Natasha-Campbell-McBride notes that “healthy indigenous gut flora has a good ability to neutralize toxic substances, inactivates histamine, chelate heavy metals and other poisons. The cell walls of the beneficial bacteria absorb many carcinogenic substances making them inactive. They also suppress hyperplastic processes in the gut, which is the basis of all cancer formation.” In other words, if the intestinal mucosa nourishes the gut flora to keep it healthy and working properly, it basically neutralizes all other health threats.
It is the intestinal mucosa that line the intestinal wall and play host to your gut flora, helping to keep it healthy and intact. Healthy intestinal mucosa is the glue that helps the gut flora, or the probiotics that feed the flora, stick to the gut lining. If the mucosal lining is diminished from working to protect the intestinal walls against pathogens and damage from food and waste, the beneficial effects of the nutrient dense diet and probiotics are also diminished. It is almost like trying to apply wallpaper without glue. It will not stick where you want it to go.
Further, an imbalance gut flora, known as dysbiosis, can result in an overgrowth of bugs, bacteria, mold, fungus, yeast and/or parasites. This imbalance causes food to ferment in the intestines instead of being digested, creating gas and bloating. Healthy gut flora helps to make the gut more acidic and hostile to invading bacteria.
When the intestinal mucosa is damaged it can then throw off the healthy balance of gut flora, contributing to gut inflammation. Researchers have found that gut flora influence not only gut chemistry, but also brain chemistry, specifically in relation to depression.
The following symptoms can be often associated with intestinal permeability:
The following factors may contribute to inflammation that damages the intestinal mucosa:
When the intestinal mucosa is damaged it can then throw off the healthy balance of gut flora, leading to inflammation in the gut. This inflammation, commonly known as leaky gut, compromises tight junctions, leading to increased permeability and allowing harmful pathogens or undigested food to “leak” into the body. This triggers an inflammatory immune response where these toxins and undigested foods are tagged as “foreign invaders” and attacked by the body’s immune system.
This also damages microvilli along the intestinal lining, impeding their ability to manufacture the digestive enzymes they need to break down the food for proper digestion which both prevents vital nutrients from being properly digested, absorbed and assimilated and can lead to food allergies/intolerances.
Inflammation in the gut can also drive chronic systemic inflammation elsewhere in the body, including the brain. You can read more about brain inflammation here.
This happens because the Gut- Brain Axis is a two way information channel, with both the brain sending signals to the gut and the gut sending signals back to the brain. For example, 80 percent of the body’s immune cells, known as Peyer’s Patches, can be found in the lowest part of the small intestine, known as the ileum.
Peyer’s patches monitor, analyze and respond to the intestinal bacteria in the small intestine to prevent the growth of harmful pathogens. If a dangerous pathogen presents, the Peyer’s patches trigger an immune response – producing antibodies and alerting the immune system to launch a full body immune response to the pathogen before it can spread beyond the intestines.
“Your gut is largest sampling site for what exists in your environment. It is through your gut that your body and your immune system figures out what you’re being exposed to on a regular basis. Your body has designed itself to sense the world around it through the digestive track,” according to Megaspore Founder Kirin Krishnan. He further notes that “Microbes that live in the digestive track are the orchestrators and controllers of how your body responds. The microbes in your gut have direct access to vagus nerve where they can send signals to trigger an immune response in your brain, heart, lungs and skeletal muscles.” In other words, your immune system in your gut – the Peyer’s Patches – are designed to diffuse any threat from pathogens in the digestive track on site in the small intestine.
When your gut is leaky or inflamed, toxins can flow from the gut into the blood stream, triggering an inflammatory response. This gut generated inflammation sends inflammatory signals to the Brain contributing to Neuro-inflammation and degeneration. More specifically, systemic inflammation in the gut creates increased production of inflammatory proteins that alter brain neurochemistry and activate brain inflammation ((contributing to brain fog, dementia, autism, ADD/ADHD, Sensory Processing Issues, auto immunity).
Similarly, larger compounds that are not normally intended to be absorbed from the gut into the blood stream, can leak from the gut into the blood, enter the brain and trigger an immune response and set off systemic inflammation in organs like the skin (contributing to eczema), the lungs (contributing to asthma), kidneys (contributing to high blood pressure), large intestine (contributing to cramps and diarrhea)
On a related note, your intestinal mucosa also plays a key role in helping the body maintain optimal immune function as it contains several immune antibodies known as immunoglobulins, like sIgA, IgA, IgG and IgM. In fact, damage to the mucosal barrier often correlates with high or low immunoglobulin reactivity to specific food proteins, making you more susceptible to developing food intolerances or allergies.
Healing the intestinal mucosal lining as it helps provide the ideal internal environment to balance of flora and feed the cells of the intestinal lining, known as enterocytes. Healthy Intestinal Mucosa helps to re-establish the healthy balance of gut flora necessary to re-colonize and heal the gut! Think of the intestinal mucosa offers the fertile soil in which the flora can grow, providing raw materials for healthy new enterocytes to grow, replacing compromised “leaky gut” cells and healing and sealing the gut lining.
Intestinal Mucosa™ amplifies your ability to absorb and assimilate nutrient dense whole food and supplements ,so that healing can really begin. And once the integrity of the intestinal mucosal wall has been re-established, the small intestine can do its job neutralizing toxins and preventing allergies, inflammation and other immune responses.
Intestinal Mucosa™ is designed to gently permeate topically through the skin to regenerate and heal the mucosal lining of the small intestine to increase optimal nutrient absorption and support healthy microbiome and the healing of food intolerances and Leaky Gut conditions. It is ideal for food intolerances, leaky gut, chronic pain and fatigue, auto-immune conditions or any kind of chronic intestinal issues.
To use, apply 2- 3 drops of Intestinal Mucosa™ in a clockwise circle around the belly button 2 -3 times daily, ideally before or after meals. Topical application is a powerful tool for anyone with impaired digestion who might struggle to digest, absorb and assimilate nutrients via the digestive process. Highly sensitive people who often cannot tolerate dietary supplements, can use essential oils without negative reaction.
To heal the gut and prevent further damage, the body needs to be in the healing Parasympathetic state. It is only in this state where the optimal digestive cascade can occur. Attempting to consume healing nutrients under stress in the Sympathetic state will only lead to impaired digestion that will further contribute to inflammation. For example, undigested proteins can trigger an immune response, further contributing to gut inflammation and properly digested nutrients provide the building blocks to nurture and support gut health.
Digestion begins in your brain. Signals from your brain, sent via your vagus nerve, turn on your digestive function and route blood flow to your organs of digestion, which turns on your digestive process:
A poorly functioning brain does not stimulate your vagus nerve, and healthy digestion is not turned on, which contributes to inflammation and undermines healthy gut function.
The critical first step to healing the gut is to eat in the optimal rest and digest Parasympathetic state. You can do this by really taking time to sit down, relax, and breathe before eating. We also recommend applying a drop of Parasympathetic™ oil to the vagus nerve (behind the earlobe on the mastoid bone) before meals to trigger optimal digestion.
Stimulating the Parasympathetic state also routes increased blood flow to the small intestine, allowing for healing of the intestinal wall and optimal enzymatic activity and nutrient assimilation. The parasympathetic state also triggers peristalsis, the muscle contractions that move food and waste through the digestive tract, known as the “Housekeeping Wave”. If motility is impaired, the inability to move food through the intestines leads to abnormal fermentation, intestinal bacteria, yeast overgrowth or unhealthy digestive conditions such as IBS and SIBO.
To trigger the Parasympathetic state, apply a drop of Parasympathetic™ to the vagus nerve (behind the earlobe on the mastoid bone) before meals. We also recommend applying a drop of Vibrant Blue Parasympathetic™ oil to the vagal nerve (behind the earlobe on the mastoid bone) before meals to trigger optimal digestion. When you apply it, take a few deep breaths, with the exhalation longer than the inhalation to fully relax and turn on digestion prior to meals. Read more about the benefits of activating your parasympathetic nervous system here.
To break the chronic inflammatory cycle, you need to remove the source of damage. This could include chronic stress, the consumption of inflammatory foods — including too much sugar or foods you are sensitive to — medications, dehydration, alcohol or intestinal infections (like candida, parasites, and small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Consider a strict elimination diet that removes all grains, sugar, dairy, corn, soy (and in some cases nuts, eggs and nightshades).
The consumption of inflammatory foods, including too much sugar, alcohol or foods they are sensitive to, or eating under stress, infections like candida, parasites, biofilms more here) and small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), toxins, chronic stress, dehydration, antibiotics or medications like aspirin or steroids.
In addition, you need to stop inflammatory cascade to give the intestines the space to heal. A good friend likes to say that you can’t mow the lawn when the house is on fire. So long as the fire of inflammation is burning inside the gut, the body is going to invest resources in fighting the fire, not cleaning up the damage that the fire is causing.
So how do we fight a fire in the intestines when the main road into the intestines, the digestive track, is inflamed and not assimilating nutrients? This is where the back doors of topical application and the olfactory channel work such magic.
Topically applied or inhaled essential oils can specifically target and support the reduction of inflammation in the gut, even when the digestive channel is blocked.
Inflammation is a natural defense mechanism designed to protect the body from infection and injury and repair damaged tissue. It allows for an increase in blood flow, bringing fluid, proteins, and white blood cells to the damaged tissue so it can heal. The increased blood supply results in redness, swelling and heat. Pain and immobility also protect the area and facilitate healing.
That said, chronic or prolonged inflammation and immune response cycle left unchecked over time, like that in the gut, can spread elsewhere in the body contributing to health challenges including:
Inflammation is also an immune response and causes even more stress on your system. If your body is focused on fighting the large war, the little battles get ignored, like filtering out the blood, calming inflamed areas of the body, fighting bacteria, regulating the gut, creating an easy tipping point to auto immunity. In the same vein, if you can heal inflammation at its root – in the gut – you can heal it elsewhere in the body.
In order for the gut to heal, you need to calm inflammation. This means both repairing existing damage and preventing future damage by limiting the factors that contribute to inflammation. This can include chronic stress, the consumption of inflammatory foods — including too much sugar or foods you are sensitive to such as grains, dairy, corn, soy — medications, dehydration, alcohol or intestinal infections (like candida, parasites, and small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
Eliminating this inflammatory triggers help stop inflammatory cascade to give the intestines the space to heal. A good friend likes to say that you can’t mow the lawn when the house is on fire. So long as the fire of inflammation is burning inside the gut, the body is going to invest resources in fighting the fire, not cleaning up the damage that the fire is causing.
So how do we fight a fire in the intestines when the main road into the intestines, the digestive track, is inflamed and not assimilating nutrients? This is where topically applied or inhaled essential oils really shine, specifically targeting and supporting the reduction of inflammation in the gut, even when the digestive channel is blocked.
Essential oils can expedite the healing for the inflammatory process by adding Anti-Inflammatory™ to your leaky gut protocol.
Anti-Inflammatory™ may be used to reduce inflammation and encourage regeneration in the chronically inflamed tissue of the small intestine. Chronic prolonged inflammation can silently damage tissues. It is often low-grade and systemic and can exist undetected for years without noticeable symptoms, all the while damaging the gut and the brain. To apply, gently massage 2 – 3 drops of Anti-Inflammatory™ to any inflamed area of the body. For the small intestine, rub clockwise around the belly button 2-3 times daily.
Another important factor in calming the fire of inflammation is modulating the immediate inflammatory response of histamine.
Histamine is a chemical neurotransmitter released at the mucosal surfaces, in response to injury, allergic or inflammatory reactions. Histamine causes blood vessels to dilate and smooth muscle to contract, so the capillaries to become more permeable to white blood cells, which can then quickly find and attack the infection or problem.
The increased permeability of the capillaries causes fluid to move out of capillaries, which gives rise to the classic symptoms of allergy such as a runny nose, watery eyes and other noticeable symptoms in the gut, throat, lungs, skin, brain, and entire cardiovascular system. Histamine also regulates physiological function in the gut, and acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain.
While the release of histamine is a normal defense mechanism, an exaggerated histamine response can bind to cell receptor sites, causing irritation and chronic inflammation. This inflammation of the nasal passages, sinuses, lungs and eyelids can cause sneezing, runny nose, watery, red, itchy eyes, rashes, breathing troubles such as wheezing, severe coughs, asthma, or hiccups. Inflammation of the small intestine can present as food allergies and sensitivities. Inflammation of the brain presents as fatigue, headaches and brain fog. All of these symptoms are due to differing histamine receptor cells being overactive, which triggers numerous immune system reactions.
Histamine levels are designed to be kept in balance by two enzymes that breaking down excess histamine and prevent allergic reactions. One of these enzymes lives in the lining of our intestines and must be present to maintain balanced histamine levels in the gut. A damaged gut lining compromises the production and secretion of this enzyme allowing histamine to build up and wreak havoc throughout the body.
The goal is to balance, not block, the histamine response as histamine performs critical functions in body, contributing to HCL production and neurotransmitter signals.
Histamine Balance™ helps reduce over-active histamine reactions and modulate the immune response. The essential oils in the blend are uniquely suited to modulate excess histamine excretion, balancing histamine levels and helping to reset the immune response and reduce allergic reactions. Blue Tansy, in particular, is known for neutralizing histamine and helping to control allergic reactions. For allergic reactions, smell or apply 1 – 2 drops behind your ears, on the back of your neck, or on your sternum to open airways. For the gut and food intolerance support, apply in a clockwise direction around belly button. For brain congestion, apply 1-2 drops at base of skull on the back of the head or on the bottom of the feet.
Neutralizing gut Infections like yeast, candida, parasites and fungus can help reduce gut inflammation. The intestines are a long, continuous tube running from the stomach to the anus where most of the nutrient and water absorption occur. Due to their absorptive nature, the intestines are also an area where pathogens and infections can live and assimilate into the body, especially in instances of weak energetic boundaries
Dysbiosis, like Crohn’s, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), parasites or excessive bacteria in the small intestine can all be indicative of poor energetic boundaries.
When in proper boundaries are in place, the bacteria in the colon helps digest foods and the body absorb essential nutrients. When boundaries are not clear, bacterial overgrowth literally invades your boundaries, interfering with the healthy digestive and absorption process.
The bacteria invade and take over the small intestine, leading to poor nutrient absorption or malabsorption of nutrients, particularly fat-soluble vitamins and iron. In some cases, the pathogens actually consume some of the nutrients, leading to unpleasant symptoms, including gas, bloating and pain.
When you improve energetic boundaries, pathogens are no longer an energetic match and often dissipate and the balance of healthy gut flora is restored. This healthy balance of bacteria in the intestines helps to support the immune functions in the epithelial cells, like maintaining physical and chemical barriers and making the gut more acidic and hostile to invading bacteria.
Healthy flora also compete with potential pathogens for space and food. If your healthy gut bacteria are already using all the resources available, there’s nothing left to feed the bad guys. They also help to modulate the inflammatory immune response and neutralize toxic substances.
Oils are a great tool for balancing gut flora. Unlike antibiotics which attack bacteria indiscriminately, killing both the good and the bad, essential oils only attack the harmful bacteria, allowing our body’s friendly flora to flourish.
The small intestine upholds physical boundaries and plays a discerning role with emotions.
In the digestion process, the small intestine absorbs and assimilates key nutrients while preventing harmful pathogens and toxins from entering the body.
On an emotional level, the small intestine plays a similarly discerning role with emotions, helping to understand experiences and determine healthy and appropriate relationships and boundaries. It is also an area where we can hold deep childhood scars of rejection, abandonment or abuse; negative thoughts fueled by feelings of lack of self-worth, low self‐esteem, loneliness, neglect and anxieties about survival and success.
The Small Intestine Support™ blend supports the healthy functioning of the small intestine as it sorts and transforms food, feelings and ideas into useful ingredients for the body/mind. It also helps correct imbalances where you are overly in tune with other’s feelings at the expense of your own. More here.
Applying 2- 3 drops around the belly button, the ears and/or over the heart may help foster clear boundaries that are supportive and nurturing to your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health.
Digest™ is also supportive for eliminating parasites and easing general symptoms of upset stomach, indigestion or food poisoning when inhaled or applied over the stomach area either directly or with a hot wet towel compress can bring relief to symptoms of discomfort.
The large intestine lets go of those things that don’t serve us. Physically, it lets go of waste after our upper digestive system has taken all the necessary nutrients out of the food we eat. Emotionally, it allows us to let go of patterns of negative thinking, destructive emotions, and spiritual blockages that prevent us from being our best.
Compromised large intestine energy presents as having a hard time moving on from difficult situations, or holding onto emotions that harm or fail to serve us. This holding on can manifest as an unwillingness to share emotions or be open with others – the phenomenon of “bottling up” emotions for years very often leads to chronic constipation.
To help the body let go, apply 2- 3 drops of Large Intestine Support™ over the large intestine, and/or around the ears or on the bottom of the feet to help releasing past hurts and stuck or hidden negative emotions.
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Subscribe to Vibrant Blue Oils and receive weekly information on oils and how to use them. As a bonus, we’ll send out Beginner’s Guide to Essential Oils to your inbox immediately!