Winter weather and the stress of the holidays can do a number on the immune system, the liver and the nervous system, which greatly affects digestive function.
After the holiday whirlwind of eating, shopping, traveling, drinking, socializing and hosting, most people limp into January feeling run down and toxic.
IBS folks need to take extra good care this time of year as the immune system resides mostly in the gut and taking care of it will keep IBS from spiraling out of control. Gently supporting the liver will keep hormones in balance and calming the nervous system will decrease excess stress.
Instead of waiting til the New year to fix the damage, do something small and simple things this month to promote balance. And I have some suggestions that are not only easy but pleasant! It will help you destress, cleanse, protect and sooth your body.
The following techniques are based in both ancient wisdom and modern science. They will help you unwind and get grounded to minimize holiday overwhelm. Your adrenals will thank you.
Oil has been used for detoxing and calming for thousands of years. Because winter is cold, dark and dry, oil is an amazing remedy against the ravages of weather, as it helps strengthen your skin’s protective barrier. Oil can be used to boost immunity, battle bloat, support liver detoxification and kill bacteria. It can also comfort your soul.
Drinking the juice of half a lemon in warm water every morning is a great way to detox and support your liver and digestion while boosting metabolism and lowering inflammation. This is one of the best health habits you can establish.
However lemon juice has it’s side effects. It can damage your tooth enamel, making your teeth extremely sensitive.
There’s a better way to get the benefits of lemon water. Instead of buying and squeezing lemons just use a drop of lemon essential oil in your water. Make sure it’s a high quality oil like Young Living or Do Terra brand if you’re going to ingest it.
Lemon essential oil has all the benefits of lemon juice but isn’t acidic because it’s made from lemon rind. For this reason it contains D-limonene (while lemon juice does not) and this compound is a powerful antioxidant that helps cleanse harmful chemicals from the liver. Lemon oil is also more easily absorbed than lemon juice.
Use one drop of lemon essential oil in your morning glass of water to increase energy and clarity, boost lymphatic flow (which will ease bloating) and helps with heart burn, gallstones and acne. It can also counter the stress on the liver of eating sugar and drinking coffee and alcohol.
Lemon oil is quite convenient. You can can carry it with you for a quick boost anytime, and it makes water taste amazing.
Another way to detox from over indulging is activated charcoal pills. With charcoal, quality matters, and this is the best one I’ve found. Activated charcoal helps neutralize the effects of toxins in your body, including accidental ingestion of gluten.
Activated charcoal binds to toxins in the body and removes them. While I don’t advocate eating things you’re sensitive to, activated charcoal can help mitigate the inflammatory effects. It is often used in emergency rooms to treat poisoning.
And though drinking too much is never advised, activated charcoal does help ease or prevent hangovers along with my favorite liver supplement NAC.
One of my favorite ways to detox and destress after a long day is a detox foot bath. Detox foot baths have the same beneficial effects as taking a full body bath. The key to detox is adding epsom salt and baking soda.
Filling a foot tub is much less hassle than cleaning and filling a regular tub, but the experience is just as luxurious. And toxins from the organs are drawn out through the feet.
The epsom salt will also add much needed magnesium to the body, helping with relaxation and sleep after a 25 minute soak.
Don’t have time? You can do other things while soaking, like talk on the phone, hang out with family members, watch your favorite show, enjoy a cup of tea/snack or read a magazine.
If you want to make your foot bath even more therapeutic you can put a few drops of essential oils like lavendar for it’s calming effects, or frankincense for its immune boosting powers.
I fill the tub with two tea pots of boiling water, then add the same amount of cold water to cool it off.
I add 1/2 cup of epsom salt and 1/4 cup of baking soda.
My favorite place to take my foot bath is outside on my deck with my puppy in my lap.
Oil pulling is another powerful ancient cleansing technique that whitens teeth, increases energy, boosts the immune system, detoxes the body, reduces oral candida, helps balance hormones, kills bad breath, and helps clear up skin and prevent heart disease.It has a long impressive list of benefits.
The mouth contains a ton of bacteria and the coconut oil helps clean and balance the oral biome, which has incredible ripple healing effects on the rest of the body.
It is done by swishing 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth for 5 to 15 minutes, as long as you can stand it. Melt it first or put it in your mouth solid and let it melt. If you’re sensitive to coconut oil use sesame oil instead.
This is an essential practice for people who suffer from candida overgrowth, h pylori and heart issues. To boost the effect you can add a drop of clove essential oil to the tablespoon of coconut oil.
Destress and protect
The skin is an important part of our immune system. It is the first line of defense against attack.
One of the best ways to protect the skin and body, boost immune function and calm the nerves is self oil massage. This is a practice the comes from the ancient medical system of India, Aryuveda.
I’ve always been fascinated with Aryuveda because it stresses our bio-individuality. We all have different body types that need different types of foods and treatments. People are divided into 3 constitutions or metabolic types, vata, pitta and kapha. You can be a mix of two types with one dominant type.
The vata category, which includes me and many IBS folks, tends to be creative and sensitive, quick thinking and prone to anxiety and digestive distress.
The dry, cold winter weather aggravates vata energy, so vata’s in particular will benefit the most from frequent oil self massage to ground and protect scattered energy.
During winter, vatas should eat hot, oily foods like soups and stews to stay grounded, and avoid raw foods.
Everyone, no mater which type, can benefit from self massage, but vatas, who run cold and dry, it’s essential for winter sanity. It will promote deeper sleep and more calm and clarity.
Oil massage is warm oil applied in circular motions starting at the top and working down. The best oil to use is jojoba oil or avocado oil. Almond oil is also ok if you don’t have nut allergies.
You can do this before or after a shower, depending on how dry your skin is. Adding a few drops of frankincense to the oil the massage oil will provide an extra immune boost.
If a full body massage feels like too much of a commitment you can only oil your feet and lower legs. Leave on for a few minutes to soak in, wipe off excess and put on warm socks before going to sleep.
This practice seems simple but is quite powerful, leaving you feeling relaxed and stable. And it will protect you from those nasty, stress induced winter bugs. Especially if you add frankincense essential oil.
Essential oils CAN NOT heal digestive issues but they can help relieve the intensity of symptoms like bloating, nausea, pain, cramps, anxiety and head aches.
The best oil for nausea or motion sickness is ginger. The best oil for headaches and bloating is peppermint. Fennel and corriander can help ease symptoms of indigestion.
My favorite essential oil blend to support digestion is Digestzen. It includes the herbs above plus digestive herbs like carraway, anaise and tarragon.
One of the most soothing teas you can make to calm and detox the digestive system is corriander, cumin and fennel tea.
Buy whole seeds, grind 1/4 teaspoon of each in a coffee grinder or crush with mortor and pestle and simmer in a cup and a half of water for 3 to 4 minutes. Strain and serve. Add a drop of digestzen for extra support.
It comforting, detoxifying, smells amazing and helps ease the discomfort of IBS.
Digestzen can be used topically by rubbing on the abdomen or putting one drop in a glass of water.
Again, it’s not a cure or treatment, but when you’re in pain and feeling despondent, it can offer some physical and emotional comfort and relief.
So the next time you feel off after eating something triggering, instead of jumping online to research and stressing yourself out even more, use any of the techniques above to calm, sooth, relax and detox. You’ll feel better.
Instead of scratching that itch of anxiety, try soothing it instead.
Angela Privin is proof that IBS is NOT an incurable disease or a disease at all. IBS is a body out of balance. It’s an invitation for change. After solving her own IBS mystery more than a decade ago Angela trained as a health coach to help others.
Angela uses both science and intuition to help people figure out what’s out of balance in their body. She works with lab tests, dietary changes, supplementation and nervous system rebalancing. Get help rebalancing your digestive system and solving your IBS mystery here.