How to soothe irritable bowel syndrome with a hot oil poultice

by | Nov 12, 2023 | gut health and digestion

Learn how to soothe irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) pain quickly. If you suffer from IBS I know that you are always on the lookout for simple remedies you can use at home.

In 2015 a German study tested the use of hot oil poultices on people with IBS. They found that using a hot oil poultice was a safe and effective method to soothe irritable bowel syndrome pain. The researchers also report that heat alone was helpful. But, their patients had the most benefit from using the hot caraway oil poultice, rather than a heated poultice made from olive oil alone.

Caraway is a culinary spice used to flavour a variety of vegetable dishes, breads, cakes and biscuits. Like many spices it also has medicinal properties. For instance, caraway has antispasmodic and carminative properties. IBS symptoms include abdominal pain and spasms, bloating or distension and altered bowel habit. Therefore caraway might relieve symptoms of IBS, such as abdominal pain, spasms and bloating.

Spasms are an involuntary contraction of muscles that can occur in skeletal muscles and smooth muscle. The bowel wall includes smooth muscle, and spasms of the bowel muscle can cause intense abdominal pain.
Antispasmodic herbal remedies such as peppermint oil capsules are used effectively internally to soothe irritable bowel syndrome spasms. And, of course, a soothing application of a hot water bottle for a tummy ache is an age-old remedy. Yet, this is the first study I have seen testing the topical application of heated herbal remedies for IBS.

How to make a hot oil poultice to soothe irritable bowel syndrome

  1. Add 2ml caraway essential oil to olive oil and dilute to 100ml.
  2. Spread 1 tsp of the caraway oil over the abdomen
  3. Cover with a moist towel and then a dry towel.
  4. Warm a heat pad to a tolerable temperature and place the heated pad on the top.
  5. Rest with the poultice in place for 20 to 30 mins.
In the study, the participants followed a course of treatment doing this daily for three weeks.

The application of heat causes relaxation of abdominal muscles and reduces stomach discomfort. A method that is often used to relieve menstrual cramps.

However, the results of this study suggest that using caraway oil provided a better improvement in IBS symptoms than just using heat alone.

In fact, there are many antispasmodic herbs that are traditionally used to relieve IBS symptoms. Some that spring to mind include fennel, lavender, chamomile, roman chamomile, ginger, lemon balm, basil and sage. However, I must point out that I am not recommending the use of essential oils or caraway to alleviate symptoms during pregnancy. If you are pregnant and dealing with IBS you may find relief by seeking the help of a qualified herbalist.


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