Until recently, I believed that the belly button doesn’t serve any purpose once the umbilical cord connected with the mother is severed. I assumed the sole purpose of this particular origin point was giving oxygen and nutrients to the embryo from the mother and as that function ends after the cutting of the umbilical cord, what else could the belly button function for? Well, a surprising claim surfaced the internet with numerous articles on ‘oil in the belly button,’ ‘belly button oiling,’ and ‘navel therapy’ and made me think otherwise.
Truth About Belly Button Oiling
You are already aware of aromatherapy which is a holistic healing treatment that uses extracts from natural plants to improve both physical and emotional health and wellbeing(1). Aromatherapy uses aromatic essential oils to enhance the health of your body, mind, and spirit. This particular therapy believed in the power of essential oils to affect your body. As the benefits of essential oils skyrocketed with claims of success, another way to use essential oils to benefit your body has come into view. Although it has been practiced for centuries in ayurvedic treatments, this particular practice of belly button oiling became insanely popular recently.
According to the Ayurvedic practice of belly button oiling, navel oil therapy can detoxify, nurture, and treat ailments in the body. Ayurveda is an ancient Indian holistic healing system based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind, spirit, and body(2). However, the study of Ayurveda is considered as pseudoscientific while the practice is classified as protoscience or unscientific. Because several studies on Ayurvedic medicine proved that there was only one scientific study of Ayurvedic medicine out of a collection of more than 7,000 studies.
The idea behind belly button oiling may be based on the fact that you absorbed nutrients through the navel tissues and umbilical cord when you were a baby, which is pretty apparent when you think that way. It is believed that a gland called the Pechoti gland(3) in your navel has the ability to allow you to absorb substances such as essential oils into your body. This method of absorbing substances through your belly button is known as the Pechoti method or the Pechoti intake method. The lack of evidence for the existence of this gland has been overlooked as there is no potential harm in trying the Pechoti method to see what it does to you. Now, what exactly is belly button oiling?
Belly Button Massaging With Essential Oils
Have you noticed how massages focus on the belly button with utmost attention especially when massaging with essential oils? Why? Interestingly enough, the belly button stays warm for up to 3 hours after a person’s death.
The first part created after conception is the navel and after the creation, it is then joined to the mother’s placenta through the umbilical cord. The navel is a scar tissue resulting from the detachment of the umbilical cord after birth. It is the place of first nourishment. Presumably, the belly button is considered as the “reset button” and “focal point” of the body as it has more than 72,000 veins and it continues to serve as a center of balance even in adulthood. All our veins are connected to the navel making it the focal point of the body and it is where the powerful energy center resides. According to Ayurveda, “the total amount of blood vessels we have in our body is equal to double the circumference of the earth.” In addition to that, the belly button presents an abundance of blood vessels and pathways to the body’s extremities. Given all of these points from Ayurveda, it is believed that the absorption of oils through the navel pathways or belly button is strongly effective.
In the practice of belly button oiling, warm oil is poured over your belly button. Some practitioners claim that the application of therapeutic oils inside and around your belly button can access and treat any physical ailment through the body’s focal point. Moreover, the belly button is situated over many of our vital organs such as intestines, kidneys, spleen, and more specifically the gut. The gut is responsible for producing up to 90% of our serotonin and 50% of our dopamine. This further adds up to the validity of belly button healing. Then again, unfortunately, the critics beg to differ(4).
Belly Button Oil Myth
As this practice of navel therapy is not scientifically proven, critics believe this to be just another myth as the skepticism around it remains still. The umbilical cord contains three vessels– two arteries and one vein. Once the umbilical cord is severed, those vessels close up. The flow of blood and fluids through the cord gradually stops once you leave the womb. After your birth, all that’s left behind on your navel are skin tissues and ligaments and there is no ‘gland’ left there to absorb anything(5).
Clinical herbalist David Harder said, “The belly button is a sealed orifice.
Right after birth when the umbilical cord is severed, then you have open tissue, but when the belly button matures, it’s not a whole lot different, in my opinion, than applying (oils) to the forearm, the back of the knee, the elbow, or anything like that. I don’t see the advantage of applying an essential oil at that particular location.” As long as the lack of scientific evidence on the success of this particular practice prevails, critics will remain skeptical.
There has been no scientific or clinical evidence to prove that applying oils to your belly button works. The topical application of essential oils on the skin has certainly proved to have values and apparent changes. However, the absorption of essential oils is yet to be proven. On the other hand, an interesting idea related to the Pechoti method is nerves in the gut contain CB2 receptors that allow CBD oils to aid in digestion. Studies show that CBD oils can interact with those nerves in the gut and reduce stomach damage and symptoms of gut disorders such as IBS. But there is no evidence that supports the idea of putting CBD oil in your button as any connection to act on your gut nerves.
Although you cannot absorb essential oils through your belly button, the scents of those oils on your body can be calming. Essential oils are known to relieve ailments such as muscular pain, depression, respiratory problems, indigestion, insomnia, skin conditions, and more. In the process of aromatherapy, you are made to smell essential oils that stimulate olfactory receptors in the brain that in turn set off reactions in the body like increased oxygen and blood circulation, muscle relaxation, boosted immune system, as mentioned by Therapy Directory(6).
As there are many benefits with essential oils and no possible harm in putting some oil in your belly button, if you want to, you can try the oiling practice at home. The supporters of this Ayurvedic practice claim that there are several benefits with the use of different oils.
What are the Benefits of Belly Button Oiling?
The supposed benefits of belly button oiling are many. With the use of different essential oils, you are supposed to have different benefits. It is extremely important to know whether you are allergic to the oil you are going to use before using as they can cause skin irritation. Before putting on your body, make sure to dilute them with a carrier oil. Applying oil in the navel heals the dryness of the eyes, poor view, the heels, chapped lips, dry skin, and the pancreas, keeps the hair healthier, the face bright, for knee pain, lethargy, and pain in the joints.
To be more precise, use these specific oils for these respective purposes:
- Neem oil in your belly button is for skin and hair health. It will help you get rid of stubborn acne and pimples that never leave.
- Almond oil in your belly button is to help you achieve a glowing face.
- Mustard oil in your belly button is to get rid of dry and chapped lips, dry skin, lethargy, or joint pains, keep your intestines moving by keeping the good bacteria, and removing harmful bacteria. It basically works as a detoxifying oil.
- Coconut oil or olive oil in your belly button is to improve fertility.
- Ginger oil in your belly button is for inflammation and nausea.
- Tea tree oil in your belly button is for inflammation and skin irritation.
- Peppermint oil in your belly button is to have relief from gut pain and nausea.
- CBD oil in your belly button can relieve tension or pain. It can send signals to your brain to relax your body muscles. It can also help with stomach problems such as indigestion and bloating.
- Sesame oil in your belly button for all kinds of joint pain in your body in addition to strengthening bones.
- A mixture (equal amount) of mustard oil and ginger oil in your belly button is for bloating, upset stomach, nausea, and digestive problems.
- Castor oil in your belly button is for knee pains.
- Thyme oil, as antispasmodic, can relax your arteries and veins, strengthen your heart muscles, and lower blood pressure. As an expectorant, it may help your body remove mucus from your lungs and airways. As a diuretic, it may help your body with weight, digestion, blood pressure, and remove excess water, salt, and toxins from your body. (Imp: since thyme oil is a powerful compound, it should not be used directly on your skin. Use only after diluting with any carrier oil.)
- Warm ghee in your belly button can improve blood flow to the nervous system, enhance the immune system, cure constipation, build a strong digestive system, and give relief from joint pain.
- You can keep alcohol dipped cotton on your belly button to cure the flu, cold, or a running nose.
What is the Truth About Belly Button Oiling?
The scientific community is reluctant to accept many natural therapies for not having performed scientific studies. However, there might be a slight chance of this practice of navel therapy working with the numerous benefits mentioned by the practitioners. We also know that most critics are often wrong. If there are no harmful side effects, why not give this a try? Try a few drops of any essential oils in your belly button and take note of whether or not it brings relief, and let us know!
- wikipedia. (n.d). Aromatherapy. [Online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aromatherapy
- Springer. (n.d). Bridging Ayurveda with evidence-based scientific approaches in medicine. [Online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4230501/
- Mandala Dream Co. (2020). Your Pechoti Gland – Belly Button Secrets!. [Online] Available at: https://www.mandaladreamco.com.au/blogs/news/your-pechoti-gland-belly-button-secrets
- Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. (2020). Endocannabinoids in the Gut. [Online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4940133/
- USA Today. (2020). Fact check: Benefits derived from putting essential oils in belly button are questionable. [Online] Available at: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2020/07/02/fact-check-health-benefits-putting-essential-oils-belly-button/5364269002/
- Memiah Limited. (2020). Aromatherapy. [Online] Available at: https://www.therapy-directory.org.uk/articles/aromatherapy.html#whatisaromatherapy