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Episode 260: Showing Your Digestive System Some Love and the History of Hinoki

In this episode we sit down with Scott Johnson, Director of Research Substantiation at doTERRA, to talk about how you can help support a healthy digestive system. He'll discuss why digestive health is important, some lifestyle changes you can make to take better care of your digestive system, as well as some of his favorite doTERRA products like, Pink Pepper, Peppermint Softgels, and DigestZen, to help support your digestive system. Plus, we'll take a look at the centuries-long history of Hinoki.

This episode is sponsored by Lavender, learn more about how you can get a free, exclusive copy of the Internal Use of Essential Oils audiobook by purchasing a bottle of Lavender.

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doTERRA: When we talk about taking care of ourselves digestion is something that comes up a lot and that's because it truly can have such a large impact on our entire body. Welcome back to Essential Oil Solutions with doTERRA, the podcast where you'll hear exciting, useful, and simple everyday uses for essential oils from experts in the field.

Today's episode is brought to you by Lavender, a plant that’s been treasured and revered for almost 3,000 years. Wherever you’re headed on adventures this summer make sure that Lavender is always with you so that you stay doTERRA Ready. Right now, as a podcast exclusive if you buy a bottle of Lavender and enter the promo code NATURAL at checkout, we’ll send you an exclusive audiobook, Internal Use of Essential Oils. This audiobook will help you learn how to safely use essential oils, and tips and ideas for the best ways to use essential oils internally.

Check out the link in our episode description or visit to learn more. Open to US orders only.

Today we're excited to talk to Scott Johnson, Director of Research Substantiation at doTERRA, about how you can support a healthy digestive system. We'll also take a look at the centuries-long history of Hinoki.

Scott, thank you so much for being here with us today.

Scott Johnson: You bet. Thanks for having me again.

Importance of Digestive Health

doTERRA: I am so excited to talk about this topic. I can never get enough of talking about digestive support because it's so impactful on your everyday life. To start us off, why is digestive health so important?

Scott: Yeah, digestive health is so important to overall well-being. I'd go as far as to say that your gut health, which includes digestion, is the core of your health. On a basic level, digestion is the ability of your body to break down foods and absorb the nutrients they contain, which are then used by the body for growth and for energy and cellular repair.

Foods are complexes of macronutrients like carbs, proteins, and fats with micronutrients like vitamins, minerals, and other compounds included that need to be separated out for the body to utilize them.

If your digestive system is deficient. Your body isn't getting the nutrients it needs from food and beverages to work efficiently and stay healthy.

Lifestyle Choices that Affect Digestive Health

doTERRA: Now, what are some of the things that a lot of us do every single day that might be having a negative impact on our digestive health?

Scott: Yeah, the list is kind of long on that one in the modern lifestyle, but well, for starters, consuming ultra-processed foods and highly refined vegetable oils. Look, we know that certain foods either contribute to a healthy GI tract and gut microbiome or have a negative effect on it. And ultra-processed foods usually contain synthetic additives like artificial sweeteners, dyes, preservatives and other harmful ingredients. These foods also trigger an immune reaction, further degrading your health.

When we consume the wrong foods or foods contaminated with things like glyphosate, we can also interfere with our gut barrier. Your gut is naturally designed to allow food nutrients to escape the digestive tract and enter the bloodstream, but it simultaneously has the job of preventing larger molecules from escaping out of the digestive tract. Also, not drinking enough water. Your digestive system depends on water, and water is involved in every step of the digestive process.

It may surprise some of your listeners, but inactivity also negatively impacts gut health. We now have sufficient scientific evidence to know that how much activity we are involved in each day influences the health and diversity of our gut microbiome and their production of important byproducts that are called short chain fatty acids. Low levels of these short chain fatty acids are associated with a host of adverse health effects.

doTERRA: Wow. Now, all of that sounds a little bit scary. So, let's look at the more positive side of things. What are some of the lifestyle changes we can make to take better care of our digestive health?

Scott: Yeah. First focus on whole and minimally processed foods. Eat fiber rich foods or take a fiber supplement to support your gut microbiome and the production of short chain fatty acids. You know, add healthy fats to what you eat. Eat mindfully. Too many of us are allowing ourselves to be distracted by some kind of technology while we eat. So eat slowly, chew your food properly, and avoid those distractions like TV or your phone. And of course, you focus on the experience of eating.

Another thing is to move intentionally. Every day we need to move and not just be sedentary, not just sit on the easy chair or in the computer desk or whatever. And then we talked about water, and it's important. So, you need to drink about half of your body weight in ounces each day. So if somebody is 150 lbs, they should be aiming for 75oz of water every day.

Of course you want to manage stress. When we look at the body holistically and and wellness holistically, we know that anything that affects your mood, your emotions, your stress state also has an impact on your physical well-being and your digestive process. So, it's important that we manage stress.

And then finally try and finish your meals earlier in the evening. We don't want those late night snacks, maybe interfering with some functions that are important because we're still focusing on digestion and digestion is not quite as efficient during those later hours.

So, some tips that might help you have a better digestive process.

doTERRA Products to Support Digestive Health

doTERRA: Absolutely. Now, looking at the essential oil world of digestion. What are your favorite oils to use to support your digestive system?

Scott: There are actually a lot of essential oils that I like using for the digestive system. You have what I call the tried and true essential oils that have a long history of traditional use to aid digestion such as Peppermint and Ginger and Fennel and anise. And then you have others like citrus oils, Clove, Coriander, Cardamom and Spearmint. But a potentially hidden gem for the digestive system is Pink Pepper essential oil.

Pink Pepper is rich in limonene, myrcene, and alpha phellandrene and clinical research suggests that ingestion of limonene supports healthy digestion, which is supported by several preclinical studies as well. In addition, preclinical research suggests that myrcene helps preserve gut health and integrity. So, you have at least two of the main constituents in Pink Pepper oil that help to support healthy digestion when they are consumed.

In addition, doTERRA has designed a blend specifically to aid digestion called DigestZen. This is full of essential oils used in clinical research or traditionally for digestive support. And the great thing is that it comes in three convenient forms. You have the softgels that can be ingested, or you can apply the touch form or dilute a 15 milliliter in some Fractionated Coconut Oil and use it as part of a soothing abdominal massage.

My suggestion or a tip that I might throw out there is to massage it into the abdomen for about 3 to 5 minutes in a clockwise circular motion for best results.

doTERRA: All of those sound like great resources. Now, you mentioned the softgels. So, if you're looking for more of a supplement or kind of a pill to ingest, what are some of your favorite doTERRA supplements to support the digestive system?

Scott: Yeah, first and foremost is a high quality probiotic. And so we have PB Assist+ or PB Assist Junior. Taking a probiotic daily to promote gut microbiome diversity is critical not only to digestive health but overall well-being as well.

Second fiber. Your gut microbiome relies on fiber to thrive and produce short chain fatty acids. And unfortunately, most of us don't get enough fiber in our diet. So, taking a supplement like doTERRA Fiber helps us get the amounts that we need to stay healthy.

Another digestive supporting supplement is TerraZyme. Your body relies on digestive enzymes to break down specific nutrients. You need proteases to digest proteins, lipase to digest fats amylase, to break down sugars and so forth. TerraZyme provides ten active, whole-food enzymes to help you digest the foods you consume and is particularly important when you have a macronutrient heavy meal.

Like maybe you've you're eating a lot of carbs or a lot of protein in that meal or if you're eating non whole foods. If you're looking for targeted support to promote gastrointestinal comfort or alleviate occasional stomach upset, enteric coated Peppermint, softgels are a great option. The menthol in Peppermint is relaxing to smooth muscles like those that line the GI tract and by doing so eases the stomach and GI tract to help reduce occasional bloating, gas or other digestive difficulties.

doTERRA: All of those sound like such incredible resources and they can be used in whatever situation that you might need them the most at the time, which is so helpful. You can mix and match. You can make sure that you're meeting your body's needs, which I love. Scott, thank you so much for joining us today and for teaching us a little bit more about supporting our digestive health, because like you said, it has far reaching effects.

Scott: It does. Thanks for having me.

doTERRA: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

The love for Hinoki has existed longer than the ability to write it down, in fact Hinoki means “cypress,” and this word dates to preliterate Japan, showing an enduring passion and appreciation for the incredible tree.

Today we’re going to talk about some various uses for these plants and want to note that plant parts, such as the leaves, bark, flower, stem, fruit, peel, bud, resin, etc., were often used for many different practices and benefits. These historical uses are mentioned here to offer insight as we explore the history of oils and plants. As such, these ancient uses are solely for informational purposes, and are not being advocated or recommended by doTERRA. Proceed at your own risk with such uses.

Hinoki or Japanese Cypress has been grown treasured and considered sacred in Japan for centuries. During the feudal era in Japan it is said that five beautiful and majestic trees were planted and selected as the most valuable trees. They were known as the five trees of Kiso and one of these trees was hinoki. Hinoki only grows within this area of the world and is very, very sensitive to any impurities that might be around it.

These trees suffer if they're trying to grow in polluted environments so they grow mostly in areas where the air and the water around them is pure. A lot of people believe that this purity is reflected in the wood's appearance. It's a very light-colored wood has a compact straight grain and a very natural clear resin permeates the pores throughout creating of natural protection for the wood.

The connection between the Japanese culture and the Hinoki tree has been handed down from antiquity. The Chronicles of Japan, the second-oldest book of classical Japanese history published in 720 AD described that “Hinoki cypress is best for building palaces.” Showing that even then the Japanese people had already found the advantages of hinoki as wood.

It's known for its very high-quality timber and has been used as a building material for temples, shrines, ritual baths and even traditional Noh theaters. Hinoki cypress has actually been also used for the theaters for multiple Japanese traditional performing arts such as Kabuki, Noh, and Kyogen. Hinoki was such a part of the tradtional theater world that the saying “standing on the cypress stage” is a nod to being a top-notch actor.

Hinoki Wood in Construction

One of the reasons that this hinoki wood has been so prized as a building material for sacred buildings is its durability. As the lumber from this tree has been observed throughout history, it's been shown that the durability of hinoki actually continues to increase for about 200 years, even after it's been cut. In fact, the oldest wooden structure in the world is in Japan and was built using this wood about thirteen hundred years ago and 65% of that original wood still remains today. Not only that, but people say that you can still smell the scent of the 1300-year-old hinoki wood to this day. That scent is one of the things that it's most famous for. So, it's incredible that it still remains 1300 years later.

Hinoki wood hasn’t just been used in construction of long-lasting buildings, it’s also frequently used in Japanese cuisine.

Have you ever seen Hinoki leaves placed under fresh fish at a sushi restaurant? It is because Hinoki leaves have many benefits when it comes to food. For the same reason, there are many kitchen tools in Japanese cooking made from Hinoki wood such as cutting boards and the sushi rice mixing bowl called sushi-oke.

Religious Importance

I mentioned earlier that one of the ways that this wood was used is in building temples and shrines for the Shinto religion. Now trees in the Shinto religion are considered sacred and according to an ancient Shinto belief a god descended to a high pine on an elegant mountain to exist in a large or old tree. And throughout the history of the Shinto beliefs these trees have continued to be seen as sacred. And sacred places in Shinto have been marked by shrines for many years.

So traditionally, and to this day, hinoki has been used to construct shrines and temples because of its importance to the religion. Hinoki wood has also been used in Shinto ceremonies and purification rituals and one of the excellent examples of this is the Sanbo which is a ceremonial stand used to bear food offerings in Shinto temples. The stands of course are very sacred in the religion and are usually made of unpainted hinoki wood.

Scent of Hinoki Essential Oil

As I mentioned earlier hinoki has a beautiful scent, when hinoki wood is cut or scrubbed it emanates a very pleasing lemon smell and it has been highly prized in Japan for this scent. They make bathtubs out of hinoki for the smell and the durability, and it’s also been utilized in traditional Japanese stick incense for it's very light and earthy aroma.

The Japanese people have utilized Hinoki throughout history for its many benefits. And with the incredible history it has in Japan and how much it has been revered by so many people we at doTERRA are so excited to be able to produce a Hinoki oil. We know you and your family will love it as well. or its many benefits and with the incredible history it has in Japan and how much it has been revered by so many people, we at doTERRA are so excited to be able to produce a hinoki oil.

We know you and your family will love it as well.

Thanks for joining us and congratulations on living a healthier lifestyle with essential oils. If you want to try any of the products you learned about, click on the link in the episode description or find a Wellness Advocate near you to place an order today. And remember, if you liked what you heard today. Rate, review, and subscribe wherever you listen.

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