It is no coincidence that both Traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda, arguably the two oldest systems of medicine on the planet, consider digestion to be one of the key factors influencing our health. These forerunners of modern medicine discovered through thousands of years of clinical practice and observation that a very direct link exists between a person’s digestive health and their physical and mental wellbeing.
People who regularly drink herbal teas often refer to their many health benefits. Among those benefits are those relating to the digestive system. The most common causes of poor digestion include: eating excessively, too quickly, or fatty foods, ingesting too much caffeine and alcohol, nervousness and even emotional trauma.
Traditional herbalists all over the globe agree that herbs with a bitter taste tend to promote digestive secretions and speed up digestion. Gentian (Gentiana lutea) is the most popular digestive bitter in Western herbalism. Europeans often drink a bitter aperitif (an ounce or so of a bitter herbal beverage) before the first bite of a meal, to stimulate digestive secretions and keep food passing through rapidly. Bitter herbs reduce gas, bloating, symptoms of food allergies and indigestion. Other bitter digestants include barberry root (Berberis vulgaris), dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) and artichoke (Cynara scolymus).
Carminative herbs warm up the digestive tract, speed up and increase the thoroughness of digestion, and reduce gas. Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum), dill (Anethum graveolens), cumin (Cuminum cyminum), caraway (Carum carvi) and lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) are carminative.
When our digestive health is in peak condition, we can enjoy more energy, boosted immunity, the appearance of being younger than we truly are, and of course, the absence of disease.
Here are some of the best known fruits and herbs for relieving digestion complications.
Rosemary aids in treating constipation through aromatherapy. According to recent studies, using essential rosemary oil for lower abdominal massages helps digestion, even two weeks after the treatment.
People with poor digestion can use this plant to make a lovely tea in order to soothe digestive issues. Hot beverages are especially convenient for soothing digestion problems. In addition, chamomile roots have been found to have laxative properties that also aid in digestion.
Turmeric is widely used to improve digestion, and there is some scientific evidence that curcumin treats dyspepsia (that Thanksgiving-dinner feeling of eating a log that never moves on). With its ability to suppress inflammation, increase mucin content of the stomach and stop bleeding, turmeric helps prevent ulcerations, including gastritis, peptic ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome and colitis. Take 1 to 2 grams of the powdered herb in capsules (or as a spice) with each meal.
The key to relieving digestive problems normally implies increasing fiber intake– both insoluble and soluble fibers. Prunes are a prefect remedy for constipation because they have both a high fiber content (7.6 grams per cup) and sorbitol. Sorbitol is a natural sugar that helps increase the water present in the intestines.
Peppermint (Mentha ×piperita) is a well-known digestive herb for easing tummy troubles. Enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules work well to prevent dyspepsia. Peppermint oil is a relaxant for the muscles of the intestinal wall. Enteric-coated capsules delay this effect until the remedy is further down in the digestive tract—this also reduces peppermint-tasting burps. Take 1 teaspoon of the dried leaf, brewed as tea, three times a day, or 0.2 to 0.4 ml of an enteric-coated capsule three times a day.
Warming cinnamon bark (Cinnamomum verum) is a mild but useful remedy for sluggish digestion. The German Commission E, the European standard for herbal medicines, recommends cinnamon for loss of appetite, dyspeptic complaints, bloating and flatulence. Use 1 teaspoon of the chopped herb brewed as tea, three times a day.
A super-healing plant to help ease digestion in general, and a good treatment for constipation.
Consuming fruit is important for overall health, though the fiber in fruit will help greatly with digestion specifically. Plus, they are loaded with phytonutrients and antioxidants.
Though not an herb, water is one of the most important things your body needs to digest food properly. Not drinking enough water slows your digestion and can make your stool hard, and difficult to pass. Staying hydrated is one of key elements to good digestion.
Oregano is a great source of fiber. Two teaspoons provide 4% of the recommended amount of fiber. Consuming oregano regularly helps ease digestion by stimulating the release of stomach bile. This antispasmodic action aids in reducing gases, swelling, indigestion and general abdominal pain that can result from digestive problems.