The digestive system is comprised of the gastro-intestinal (GI) tract and is a series of connected organs along a 30 foot pathway responsible for chewing food, digesting and absorbing nutrients, and expelling waste. The organs involved in the digestive process are the mouth (chewing), the esophagus (swallowing), the stomach (mixing food with digestive juices), small intestine (mixing food with digestive juices of the pancreas, liver/gallbladder, and intestine, and pushing food forward for further digestion), large intestine (absorbing water and nutrients, changing waste into stool), and the rectum (storing and expelling stool from the body).
The digestive tract works closely with the immune system to protect the body from pathogens and invaders. The GI tract is exposed to high quantities of outside substances including bacteria and viruses and can almost be considered to be an exterior body surface. Without the immune system (lymphoid tissue in the GI produces about 60% of the total immunoglobulin produced daily), the long, dark, moist GI tract would be ideal for pathogenic colonization In return, the digestive system assists the immune system in protecting the rest of the body by breaking down bacteria and pathogens at various stages, starting with lysozyme in the saliva.
There are over 100 Million neurons embedded in the gut, which is more than exist in the spinal column or peripheral nervous system. This mesh-like network of neurons known as the enteric nervous system (sometimes called the “Second Brain”) works together with the Central Nervous System to oversee every aspect of digestion. It follows then, that brain-gut interactions are highly connected to emotional health; there is a proven correlation between stress, anxiety, and gut disorders.
How Essential Oils Work with the Digestive System
Natural solutions offer ample opportunity for balance and support of the digestive system. Start with good nutrition, clear the primary pathways of elimination so waste and toxins can be eliminated , use essential oils specifically targeted to help balance flora in the gut, take a good prebiotic to help encourage growth of beneficial bacteria, and ingest a probiotic to repopulate the gut with live strains of helpful bacteria. Restablishing health and balance in the gut can literally be a life-changing experience!