HOME REMEDIES FOR IBS: HERBS TO HELP DIGESTIVE WOES
We’ve all heard the saying ‘we are what we eat’. But, to be more accurate, we are what we digest, absorb, and then transfer to our cells.
Our digestive system is tasked with these very important jobs. It breaks down our food to allow the nutrients to enter the bloodstream and get carried to every part of our body.
If any step of this process does not function optimally, our health can suffer.
Luckily, there are a variety of herbs we can incorporate into our routines that support and nourish our hard-working digestive system. As home remedies for IBS, herbs can be extremely effective.
Herbs can be used to ease digestive upset and aggravating symptoms such as bloating, gas pains, heartburn and constipation. Botanicals provided by nature work with your body in a gentle manner to improve digestive health.
If you want to learn how to effectively start new healthy gut habits, such as incorporating herbs, be sure to get my FREE blueprint below so that you can create habits that are meaningful and long-lasting.
TRIED AND TESTED OVER THE AGES
Writings on the use of herbs as an aid for toning up the stomach take us back many centuries. In former times, every home had its own herb garden. Families handed down knowledge about which herb was best for improving the appetite and which one would relieve heartburn, gas, or nausea.
These old remedies are still with us today and are rapidly regaining their former popularity.
Most people think of culinary herbs solely in terms of flavor, not realizing that their original purpose was therapeutic.
Long ago, when people began adding more meat and heavy, rich foods to their diets, they found they were experiencing unwanted digestive problems.
To avoid GI upset, they wisely began taking their medicine with their food. For example:
- Herbs such as ginger, fennel, anise, sage or mint were used to help prevent indigestion.
- Mint was added to peas to help correct the tendency of peas to produce gas.
- The custom of serving mint sauce with lamb was not merely a matter of taste; young meat is more difficult to digest and the mint helped to prevent it from disagreeing with digestion.
- Marjoram, another popular culinary herb, was also employed mainly as a digestive aid to diminish the heaviness of pork, goose, and other foods.
The flavor quality was secondary to the fact that each herb mentioned played a very important and unique purpose in digestion and detoxification of the body.
Let’s look more closely at 5 herbal heroes for our bellies!
Globe Artichoke is a natural digestive system and liver tonic with great restorative powers.
This wonderful herb has been used as a medicinal digestive herb dating back to the days of the Roman Empire. It belongs to the daisy family and can grow as high as 6 feet tall.
A very strong herb for digestion, it stimulates the flow of bile in the body which leads to improved digestion. It especially helps the body with the break-down of fats and also has the ability to maintain normal levels of cholesterol.
Cynarin is the main ingredient in the globe artichoke and is found in high concentrations in the leaves.
As a top herb for the digestive system, artichoke:
- soothes IBS
- reduces intestinal gas
- takes away feelings of nausea
- helps relieve constipation and bloating
Improvements in digestive function can be noticed after 2 to 8 weeks of using the extracts. On top of that, It also is known to strengthen kidney function!
Ginger is noted to rank as one of the top herbs when it comes to digestion.
Not only is ginger a very popular culinary condiment used for flavoring tasty recipes, it is also a medicinal herb that has been used for thousands of years to treat a variety of ailments.
Before he ate anything, Confucius would sprinkle a bit of this digestive herb over his meals. He believed it would promote appetite and help to expel gas from the intestinal tract and stomach.
- It is a soothing, warming spice
- Belongs to the plant family that includes cardamom and turmeric
- Holds an honorary place for use in traditional medicines
- It was exported from India to the Roman Empire over 2000 years ago, largely due to its valuable medicinal properties.
There is evidence that ginger is effective as a(n):
- anti-inflammatory agent
- antiemetic (prevents nausea)
- protector of cardiovascular function
- anti-cancer compound
The bioactive components of ginger include chemical compounds such as gingerols and zingerones.
Ginger metabolites make it a powerful natural remedy for ailments including heartburn, motion sickness, menstrual pain, and nausea.
Overall, ginger is a superb normalizer for the digestive process!
Slippery elm comes from the “slippery,” gummy-textured inner bark of the Red Elm tree which is native to North America.
Slippery elm is a stand-out remedy when it comes to digestion due to a substance it contains known as mucilage.
When mixed with water, the mucilage forms a thick gel that coats the lining of the throat, esophagus and the intestines.
Finely powdered slippery elm bark is considered one of nature’s finest demulcents. Demulcents act to gently soothe and protect mucous membranes against irritation and inflammation.
This makes slippery elm an ideal remedy for the symptoms of chronic GI problems such as leaky gut and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). For the same reasons, it is useful for relief from acid reflux, heartburn and colds that cause a sore throat as it eases throat pain.
Slippery elm improves gut health in yet another way. It is abundant in soluble and insoluble fiber and thus serves as a prebiotic. Prebiotics support a thriving microbiome and the cells of the intestinal wall by boosting the production of beneficial short chain fatty acids (SCFAs).
You can try out this digestive powerhouse in a variety of forms including powders, teas, tablets or lozenges.
My favorite use is to add a scoop of slippery elm powder to my smoothies!
Any discussion of herbs and digestion wouldn’t be complete without peppermint!
An old-time beverage, peppermint tea is outstanding when it comes to relieving stomach gas, flatulence, and any resulting distress or pain. It is extremely comforting to the stomach and agreeable to the system.
It is also caffeine-free and won’t cause any restlessness that could keep people awake at night. It is palatable, aromatic and refreshing! (This blog post also discusses peppermint tea)
Research studies reveal that peppermint oil helps in easing IBS symptoms including bloating, constipation, pain and cramps due to the menthol it contains.
Menthol has antispasmodic properties, producing a relaxing effect on the intestinal smooth muscle and is also believed to dull the pain sensors within the colon.
The research-backed results were obtained using peppermint oil. Dosage recommendations based on the studies are
- Adults: 0.2ml to 0.4ml of peppermint oil 3 times a day
- Children ages 8 and up: 0.1ml to 0.2ml of peppermint oil 3 times a day
I add about 3 drops of peppermint essential oil to a capsule that I take 1 or 2 times per day.
I also have a mint plant in my kitchen to take leaves from to add to beverages and meals from time to time (that’s my little plant in the picture above!).
Anise is cultivated in many parts of the world. It is from the same family as celery, parsley and carrots.
This sweet-tasting culinary herb with a mild licorice-like flavor helps to prevent and relieve gas.
The seeds can even be chewed as a breath sweetener and to stimulate the appetite. Anise has an ancient reputation as a carminative (an agent to either prevent the formation of gas in the GI tract or to help the expulsion of gas), expectorant, and flavoring agent.
Today, anise is still considered a good domestic digestive remedy for settling the stomach and to prevent gas and fermentation in the bowels if a warm tea is brewed from the seeds.
To use anise in tea:
Use a mortar and pestle to grind 1 tablespoon of anise seeds. Add the crushed seeds to 2 cups of boiling water. Simmer for 5 minutes or to taste.
In addition to tea, anise can be found in powder, extract, oil and seed form. Most recipes call for small amounts of anise seed, oil or extract.
Keep in mind… a little goes a long way!
Along with a healthy, nutritious diet, herbs can be an effective addition to your routine to boost and enhance your digestion. The next time you are experiencing any of the GI symptoms talked about above, consider giving herbs a try!