Herbs for Digestive problems
Herbs traditionally used to relieve digestive problems include:
Slippery Elm (Ulmus fulva) a soothing nutritious powdered bark, used to treat any inflammation or irritation of the lining of the digestive tract. It is particularly useful for diarrhoea, IBS and heartburn and best taken as a powder made into a warm drink.
Psyllium (Plantago ovata) husks are used to tone the bowel and gently ease constipation. It is used by herbalists to help IBS, diverticular disease and mild constipation. It combines well with slippery elm powder.
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) helps to relieve wind and colicky pain whilst supporting the digestive processes. Combines well with peppermint for use in IBS.
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) is the herb of choice where there is spasm and wind. It also aids the breakdown of fats and increases digestive juices to improve digestion.
Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) is used by herbalists to reduce excess acidity. Meadowsweet also helps to soothe and protect the lining of the digestive tract. It combines well with chamomile and marshmallow root for heartburn and indigestion.
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) is known as the ”Mother of the Gut‘. Chamomile acts to ease inflammation, reduce spasms and promote good digestion. It also eases nervous tension and anxiety.
Traditionally, herbalists view the gut as the seat of many health conditions. A sluggish digestion can affect the whole system. When toxins are not eliminated effectively via the liver and bowel, constipation can develop which in turn can lead to sinus congestion and skin disorders.
Bitter herbs have traditionally been used by herbalists to detox and to aid the digestive process. This bitter mix of herbs begins its’ action on the bitter taste receptors on the back of the tongue. This begins a cascade of reactions in the digestive tract, including increased production of stomach acid and increased bile production from the gallbladder.
Bitters blends help the digestive process as a whole, and are especially good for those who struggle with the digestion of fatty and rich foods. Some formulas are also helpful after upsetting food, mild food poisoning or excessive alcohol consumption.
Herbal bitters are a herbal drink containing aromatic herbal essences, with a bitter or bittersweet flavor, often flavored with citrus, with no added sugar.
Bitters are used to stimulate the appetite, either for food or for cocktails. Used in both apéritifs and digestifs, they help to settle the stomach before a meal or a night of drinking. Apéritifs are usually taken before and digestifs taken afterwards.
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) has been used as a digestif or tea to settle the digestion after meals for centuries.
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Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) was traditionally used in 'gripe waters' to soothe colic and flatulence in children.
Slippery elm (Ulmus fulva) bark powder releases a mucilage that soothes, coats and protects the walls of the intestinal tract.
Psyllium husks (Plantago ovata) act as a gentle dietary fibre. Remember to follow psyllium with a full glass of water.