Scientists actually call the gut the “second brain.” I am constantly amazed at the intricate role your gut plays in overall health, particularly your bioterrain which encompasses everything from vitamin and mineral absorption to cellular health, to your metabolic and hormonal function.
Hormones and your gut aren’t normally talked about in the same sentence, but the truth is that hormonal imbalance often stems from your gut microbiome being out of balance.
Symptoms like gas, bloating, diarrhea, and stomach upset are all end results of a bigger problem. And all of those gut symptoms directly impact your hormonal health!
Your Gut Health Determines Your Emotional State
Your gut contains 30 neurotransmitters, much like your central nervous system (CNS), that send messages up to your brain. On top of that, nearly 95% of your serotonin levels are produced in the gut too.
While you normally don’t think of emotions being in the gut, those “gut feelings” speak to your emotional well-being. Your enteric nervous system (ENS) in your digestive tract largely impacts your emotional health. Your ENS communicates directly with your brain to simulate your everyday state of emotional well-being.
Let’s take a quick moment to think about your gut health.
What Hormonal Imbalance Clues Is Your Body Giving You?
Considering how your nervous system impacts your gut and the hormonal tie-in when things get stressful in your world, do you find that your body responds with digestive distress? Maybe you haven’t put those two together as a cause and effect yet, but they most definitely are.
When stress, or the hormone cortisol, threatens your well-being, your body responds in the most primitive way possible by shutting down non-essential systems so that it can fight or flee from danger. In short, it shuts down your gut so you can get away.
Maybe an even more common response for you is to binge on sugary, carb-laden foods when you're stressed. Stress eating is your body's way of responding to the increased levels of cortisol and adrenaline telling you to fuel up for the fight or flight you perceive. When you allow your body to live in a constant state of chronic stress, unresolved cortisol levels disrupt your body’s natural hormonal chemistry.
But, we aren’t fighting off saber-toothed tigers anymore. Instead, we worry about being late to a meeting, or we get triggered about money or other health concerns watching commercials on tv. So, the carb binge you embark on to “deal with it” causes an onslaught of serotonin in the gut, which is already working overtime to filter out the excess cortisol as it is. Then insulin resistance becomes a very real problem.
When Insulin Goes Awry
Insulin is another hormone that impacts your gut. How sensitive you are to insulin often determines much about your emotional and physical health. If you have a low sensitivity to insulin (as in you need more of it to clear high levels of glucose from your bloodstream) something is definitely off in your body. Usually, your diet is the biggest culprit.
Left unchecked, insulin sensitivity leads to metabolic syndrome and prediabetes. When you choose more of a plant-based, whole food diet rich with healthy fats and low in sugars and refined carbs, you give your hormones a fighting chance to right themselves and to restore your neurotransmitter equilibrium.
Lowering your cortisol level will do wonders for your gut microbiome too, because cortisol also interferes with how insulin breaks down.
That is why your gut suffers. Can you see how the cycle perpetuates itself?
Natural Steps To Get Gut And Hormone Balance Back In Check
Instead of throwing antibiotics or OTC solutions at your “misbehaving” gut (which only worsen your situation by the way), work on restoring your hormonal balance so your body can work the way Mother Nature intended it to.
My friend Dr. Mariza Snyder just published a new book, The Essential Oil Hormone Solution, to teach you about how to reset your hormones. She emphasizes self-care as the key piece to this puzzle and encourages us to become the CEOs of our own healthcare.
Dr. Mariza empowers you to get your body back on the right track using essential oils to support you through the process. Without a solid hormonal reset, she believes it impossible to get your body or your gut back to normal.
Here are some of Dr. Mariza's easy solutions to help ensure that insulin isn’t affected by the excess cortisol levels in your body, and to support the overall health of your gut microbiome. She goes into depth in her book, suggesting many ways to support the following changes with essential oils.
Taste And Chew Your Food
Slow down and savor each bite. Chances are your on-the-go eating is signaling to your body that food is scarce and there isn’t time to get enough. When you savor each bite and really chew your food it allows your mind to realize there's plenty of time to enjoy it. You're in no immediate danger, and the chewing process will allow you to properly break down your food and ease any potential digestive distress. Count to 100 chews to get slow yourself down if you have to. It will be so worth it!
Use bitters to help you slow down and digest your food better before each meal. I have many to choose from in my shop.
Observe That You Are What You Eat
You are a whole, natural, organic human being. Your food should be the same. Synthetic, processed, sugar-loaded foods do nothing for your body and are not even close to being considered proper fuel. Don’t fool yourself with an artificial caffeine and sugar high, or you'll end up needing more of the same to stay up.
And another thing…If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, don’t eat it. Don’t forget that carbs equal sugar. Just because you choose a whole-grain bagel instead of a candy bar doesn’t mean that you won't have to process all that sugar.
Write It Down
Make yourself accountable for what you eat by keeping track of it. Sometimes, you just aren't aware of what and how much food you actually put in your body. Use a journal or try the Lose It! app to see what macronutrients you're consuming. Journaling what you eat can help you see patterns and pinpoint emotional eating episodes so you can stop using food as a response to stress.
Use Proactive Oiling
I know. The cravings come and you can’t resist them. Or your symptoms get the best of you and you just give up and eat whatever the heck you wan since you're going to suffer anyway.
Digestive issues like gas, bloating, cramps, and abnormal bowel movements are NOT normal. Your body’s detoxification and evacuation processes are under siege if this is your usual state of being every day. Aromatherapy and essential oil massage can help you get a handle on these symptoms, but until you use calming essential oils to get a handle on the stress, you'll continue to suffer.
You can learn more about proactive oiling in Dr. Marzia's book. She even includes some amazing bonus hormone-healthy recipes and shopping lists to promote better gut and hormonal health.
She did allow me to share some of her best essential oil recommendations for digestive issues. Be sure to dilute them with a carrier oil and apply topically around the belly button:
Essential Oils For Gut Symptoms
Peppermint – alleviates occasional stomach discomfort and soothes digestive muscles; curbs cravings when used proactively (just a sniff will help)
Grapefruit – supports healthy detoxification while curbing cravings
Ginger – eases occasional nausea and digestive unrest; reduces gas, bloating, and indigestion
Cardamom – relieves digestive upset
Clove – promotes healthy digestion
Fennel – supports healthy digestion while easing discomfort
For an easy on-the-go solution, try Dr. Marzia's Belly Bliss Rollerball Blend. Simply roll around your belly button or on the abdomen, and experience immediate relief!
BELLY BLISS ROLLERBALL BLEND
10 drops Ginger essential oil
10 drops Fennel essential oil
6 drops Peppermint essential oil
Carrier oil of choice
To use: Add essential oils to a 10 mL rollerball bottle and top off blend with a carrier oil of your choice. Apply directly to the area of concern.
Happy Hormones, Happy Gut
As I always remind you, you have to heal your gut to hear your gut. One of the most important tools in the gut healing process is taking the time you need to connect to your body to honor its messages.
Tune in and take stock of how your stress levels affect your quality of life and the state of your digestion. If you find stress or strong emotions manifest with digestive distress, consider adding proactive oiling to your self-care regimen.