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Parts of this were taken with permission from Essential Oils Overview and Reference Guide, published by: The Family Tree, 2008


see also dysentery, food poisoning, stomach flu.

Diarrhea is loose, watery, and frequent stools.  The most common causes of diarrhea are

  a mild viral infection known as viral gastroenteritis.  This is also known as the stomach flu.

  Traveler’s diarrhea or Montezuma’s revenge is described in more detail below.

Other causes are food poisoning, food allergies, reactions to medications or medical procedures, and as a side effect of more serious health concerns such as Crohn’s, diabetes, and ulcerative colitis.

Traveler’s diarrhea (Montezuma’s revenge) is a common difficulty of those that travel. This is usually a bacterial infection but can be from a variety of viruses and parasites.  Diarrhea is the most common symptom and may be accompanied by abdominal pain, fever, gas, loss of appetite and vomiting depending on the infectious agent. The most common bacterial infection for travelers is E. coli, viral is viral gastroenteritis and parasitical are giardiasis and cryptosporidiosis. For other gastric infections also refer to the following related pages dysentery, food poisoning, stomach flu.

    E. coli enteritis is the common food poisoning to those that travel.  Meats that have not been handled properly, unsanitary food preparation areas, dairy or foods with mayonnaise not properly refrigerated or undercooked eggs or meat are all possible sources.

     Symptoms usually occur with in 24 to 72 hours of infection.  Sudden severe diarrhea that may be bloody is the most common symptoms.  Others symptoms may include abdominal pain, fever, gas and/or loss of appetite.  Vomiting is rare.


    Viral dysentery or also referred to as viral gastroenteritis or stomach flu is a viral infection and can come from a variety of viruses including adenovirus, astrovirus, caliciviruses, norovirus and rotavirus. The latter two being common among children while caliciviruses is a more common infectious agent among adults. None of these virus strains are related to those responsible for the common cold or flu (influenza) that affect the respiratory system.

     Symptoms appear rapidly after contacting the infection, usually with 4 to 48 hours.  Symptoms usually will include some abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting then followed with diarrhea. A low-... fever and headache may also occur but symptoms will usually differ from respiratory influenza (the flu) which typically will include high fever, muscle aches, fatigue and respiratory congestion.


    Giardiasis, and cryptosporidiosis (Giardia lamblia, and Cryptosporidium parvum) are each protozoa that infect the digestive tract and develop a mild form of dysentery commonly referred to as traveler’s diarrhea (Montezuma’s revenge).

     Symptoms of giardiasis infection are delayed about 1 to 3 weeks after exposure.  When symptoms appear the include bloating with foul smelling gas, headaches, low-... fever, nausea and vomiting.  Cryptosporidiosis infection is typically milder but may include heavy diarrhea starting 7 to 10 days after exposure, nausea and vomiting.  Usually no fever.


A quick note on the terms associated with digestive tract infections.

Common medical terms
  Gastroenteritis is the general term for infection (bacterial, viral, parasitical or toxins) that leads to inflammation of the mucous membrane of the digestive tract.
  Dysentery, a subset of gastroenteritis, primarily affecting the colon. Infection is commonly from parasites but can also be bacterial, viral or toxic. Most common are amoebic, giardia and cryptosporidium that all come from protozoans (single cell parasites).
  Gastritis, a subset of gastroenteritis, is specifically inflammation of tissue in the stomach.
  Diarrhea is a common symptom of various forms of gastroenteritis. Some use this term interchangeably with dysentery.
Common lay terms
  Food poisoning can lead to gastroenteritis and primarily describes what and how the infectious agents come into the body.
  Stomach flu (viral gastroenteritis) is a subset of gastroenteritis caused by a viral infection from a number of viruses (but unrelated to those that cause the common cold and flu).
  Traveler’s diarrhea (Montezuma’s revenge) is the lay term used for gastroenteritis (bacterial or viral) common to folks traveling to new areas and exposed to new infectious agents.



[search helps: diahrrea, diarrhea, runs]

Oils, blends & products recommended:

Oils & Blends:  Digestive BlendC, FennelC, GingerEC, PeppermintEC, SandalwoodEC

Essential oils based products: GI Cleansing Formula, Probiotic Defense Formula

Also consider: CinnamonEC, CypressEC, EucalyptusEC, GeraniumEC, Roman ChamomileEC

Note: to understand the E and C superscript go to Home and scroll to New Helps.

Suggested protocols:

Digestive Blend may be taken internally or topically.  Internally add 3 - 4 drops to a swallow of water or juice.  Topically apply 3 - 4 drops to the lower stomach area.  For children and babies apply topically and dilute with a carrier oil. For infants the oils will be effective when applied to the bottoms of the feet.

Ginger and Peppermint are also good to settle upset stomachs.

Cinnamon or cassia applied topically to the lower stomach area with a carrier oil are specifically helpful for diarrhea.

Bacterial, Viral or Parasite?

If the type of infection is known consider augmenting with an oil effective for that infection if it is not included in the protocol above.

ANTIBACTERIAL: basil, cassia, cinnamon, clove, cypress, eucalyptus, geranium, Lavender, Lemon, Lime, Marjoram, Melaleuca, Myrrh, Protective Blend, Oregano, Peppermint, Rosemary, Thyme, Wild Orange


ANTIVIRAL: basil, cassia, cinnamon, clove, eucalyptus, Frankincense, Helichrysum, Lemon, Lemongrass, Marjoram, Melaleuca, Melissa, Myrrh, Protective Blend, Oregano, Thyme


PARASITES: cinnamon, Digestive Blend, Lemon, Melaleuca, Mountain Savory, Protective Blend, Oregano, Roman Chamomile, Thyme

Experiences and Testimonials of others

Samara - My 14 month old has been sick all night with a fever.  He's been vomiting and has diarrhea.  What would you suggest?

Pat - Peppermint will control the fever and the stomach. Because he is so young you might want to use a carrier oil when you put it on his skin. The forehead and back of the neck for the fever and the tummy and a drop in a cup of water for the upset tummy. Cassia or cinnamon will help with the diarrhea but you will absolutely need a carrier oil, and you would rub it on the bottom of his tummy. If you have (...) oils, Digestive Blend will be good and is not so hot as the other oils.

Samara - I tried the Digestive Blend and wow!  I rubbed it on his belly and within 20 minutes he wanted to eat!  A little later I gave him a drop in some water.  He let go of a lot of gas and then he really felt like eating. His diarrhea is almost gone.


JoAnn - I need help.  I have had diarrhea for over two months and the doctors can't figure out why.  I had a colonoscopy and it was clear.  So here I am asking for suggestions as to what oils and how to use them.

Pat - Check out your diet and see if you are doing anything different. Then go with Digestive Blend internally (3-4 drops in swallow of water) and externally. Rub the Digestive Blend on the bowel area just below the stomach. This should really work for you but you may need to do it aggressively and consistently.

Lisa - Also, I would suggest the Probiotic Defense Formula. Diarrhea is a sign that you are not digesting something properly. Probiotic Defense Formula should help with that. Do you eat dairy products? Diarrhea is on of the signs that someone has become partly or fully lactose intolerant. Changing to raw dairy products which have the enzymes for digestion (destroyed in pasturization) can help take care of this problem if that is the cause.


Ann - My daughter has had diarrhea off and on since Monday.  I have been using Digestive Blend and Peppermint topically on her feet and tummy, and was wondering if Digestive Blend would be ok to give her internally, she is 15.  Would that help?

Brooke – Yes - If she can stand it - We had the flu bug last week, and I used a couple of drops of Digestive Blend under their tongue three times a day, and then had them drink water with Peppermint in it.  But I also rubbed Lemongrass and ginger on their abdomen - and it helped a ton!  It is a really nasty flu bug going around!

Maree - I would also try clove.... internally.  That really helped my family’s issues a few weeks ago.


Cami - My 2 year old has been sick for the last 5 days. She is either throwing up or has diarrhea. Monday she was throwing up. Tuesday she threw up once but had diarrhea all day. Wednesday diarrhea all day. Thursday she threw up a little. Then today she has thrown up twice. Can't really keep anything down again and has had diarrhea. She will drink and she acts like herself when she isn't throwing up. I am just wondering if there is something I can give her that will help her stomach calm down and just help get rid of this bug that we can't seem to get rid of!

Leah - Sounds like my baby this past week, except the throwing up hasn't been that intense. Definitely has the diarrhea. He's mostly breastfed. The oils I've been using on him (he's 10 months old) are Grounding Blend on the bottom of his feet, basil around his ears - as he seems to have an irritation or infection, Frankincense on his head or neck, and Digestive Blend on his belly button. I think the Digestive Blend plays the biggest part in not throwing up.

Sandi - Sounds like my daughter last week (5 years old). Ginger worked best for her. Stopped things (both ends) right in their tracks. Couple drops of ginger in FCO and rubbed on her lower abdomen. Then she liked to smell the Peppermint because it masked the smell of the ginger, which she doesn't like. It usually worked for about 12 hours before she's start feeling nauseous and then I'd reapply.

Protocols folks recommend for children



Diet and Nutritional complements to essential oils


What Science & Research are saying

Herbal remedies for dyspepsia: Peppermint seems effective.

Prescrire Int. 2008 Jun;17(95):121-3. [No authors listed]


(1) Functional dyspepsia is extremely common, yet few if any treatments have been shown to be effective. This review examines the potential benefits and risks of using herbal products in treating symptoms of dyspepsia. (2) About forty plants have been approved in France in the composition of products traditionally used for dyspepsia. (3) The clinical efficacy of most of these plants has not been assessed. Some essential oils can cause severe adverse effects, including seizures. Herbal teas appear to be safe when used appropriately. (4) A few randomised controlled clinical trials suggest that Peppermint essential oil is effective in reducing abdominal pain, flatulence and diarrhea in patients with "irritable bowel syndrome". Peppermint tea, containing essential oil, has no known adverse effects. (5) There is no sound reason to discourage patients from using herbal teas made from plants such as Lemon balm, German Chamomile or star anise.



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NOTE: The advice shared in this site has not been evaluated by the FDA. The products and methods recommended are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease, nor is it intended to replace proper medical help. As members offer or look for answers, kindly understand that essential oils work to help to bring the body into balance - thus helping the body's natural defenses to restore homeostasis. Essential oils are not used to "treat" medical problems.