Heartburn is a painful burning sensation which occurs in the esophageal tube, behind the breastbone. Due to its proximity to the heart, it’s sometimes confused with the chest pain of a heart attack; fortunately, heartburn is not as dangerous.
The lining of the human stomach is equipped to deal with a variety of ingredients, as well as the harsh stomach acids required to digest them. The esophagus, however, is not coated with this layer of protective cells. A sphincter muscle is located between the two organs which keeps the food you swallow in your stomach. Sometimes, gastroesophageal reflux disease, or another disorder which affects the lower esophageal sphincter, can cause digestive fluids to reflux back up into the esophagus. When this happens, the sensitive tissues of the esophagus become inflamed, and heartburn ensues.
The symptoms of heartburn are not stationary, and may change overtime. If digestive fluids disturb the larynx, it can affect your voice, and cause you to cough. Recurring bouts of heartburn increase the risk of esophageal cancer; they may also cause ulcers, and leave scar tissue.1
Essential Oils for Heartburn
Heartburn is often treated with antacid medication, which coats the lining of the esophagus to minimize contact with stomach acid. In extreme cases of heartburn, your doctor may prescribe a proton pump inhibitor to reduce the production of gastric acids.
If you want to avoid medication, essential oils can be used to relieve the pain and burning sensation of heartburn by inhaling the scent directly from a bottle, or by diffusing the scent throughout a room with a steam diffuser. The following essential oil heartburn remedies may offer a form of natural relief.
Peppermint Essential Oil
Extracted from the Mentha peperita plant, peppermint essential oil has been reported to promote digestion and aid in gastrointestinal issues, including heartburn. Peppermint essential oil’s benefits are primarily due to its anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic and antiseptic properties.2 For use in heartburn relief, peppermint essential oil should not be used topically without first being diluted with a carrier oil.
To enjoy the reported digestive benefits of peppermint essential oil through aromatherapy, add 15 drops per 1 oz. carrier oil and apply onto chest and throat. Alternatively, add 3-5 drops of the peppermint essential oil to a diffuser, and let the aroma disperse throughout a room.
Lemon Essential Oil
Two of lemon essential oil’s top benefits are its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which may be helpful in cases of gastroesophageal reflux disorder. In a 2010 study, lemon essential oil was investigated for its ability to reduce stomach ulcers. Findings indicate that the beneficial properties of lemon essential oil helped the body produce additional amounts of mucus, which provided a gastroprotective effect.3
Lemon essential oil heartburn remedies should not be taken orally, unless a doctor has instructed you to do so. To enjoy the fruity aroma and the reported acid reflux relief, add 3-5 drops of oil to a diffuser and inhale, or add 5-10 drops to running bath water before a relaxing soak.
Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender (Lavendula) essential oil is regarded for its sweet, floral scent commonly used in perfumes and soaps. Lavender essential oil has several health benefits including anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, which may be particularly useful in cases of heartburn and gastrointestinal distress. Heartburn is a side effect of inflammation caused by stomach acid coming into contact with sensitive esophageal tissues.
In 2015, lavender essential oil was tested by researchers at the Brazilian Academy of Science to determine its usefulness as an anti-inflammatory. The team used isolated, animal tissues and noted that the lavender essential oil demonstrated significant anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects in vivo.4
For natural heartburn relief, lavender essential oil works best in a steam diffuser.
Never ingest essential oil heartburn remedies without first consulting a medical practitioner. If you experience any skin irritation, have trouble breathing, or find that heartburn symptoms worsen after using an essential oil for heartburn relief, contact a doctor immediately.
Scientific Research Referenced in this Article
- Farrow D. C., Vaughan T. L., Sweeney C., Gammon M. D., Chow W., Risch H. A., …Blot W. J. (2000). Gastroesophageal reflux disease, use of H2 receptor antagonists, and risk of esophageal and gastric cancer. Cancer Causes & Control. 11(3), 231-238. DOI: 10.1023/A:1008913828105
- Thosar N., Basak S., Bahadure R. N. & Rajurkar M. (2013) Antimicrobial efficacy of five essential oils against oral pathogens: An invitro study. Eur J Dent. 7(5), 71-77. DOI: 10.4103/1305-7456.119078
- Rozza A. L., Moraes T. M., Kushima H., Tanimoto A., Marques M. O. M., Bauab T. M., & Pellizzon C. H. (2011) Gastroprotective mechanisms of Citrus lemon (Rutaceae) essential oil and its majority compounds limonene and β-pinene: Involvement of heat-shock protein-70, vasoactive intestinal peptide, glutathione, sulfhydryl compounds, nitric oxide and prostaglandin E2. Chemico-Biological Interactions. 189(2011), 82-89. DOI: 10.1016/j.cbi.2010.09.031
- Silva G. A., Luft C., Lunardelli A. & Oliveira J. R. (2015) Antioxidant, analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of lavender essential oil. Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciências87(2). DOI: 10.1590/0001-3765201520150056