Suffering from indigestion, constipation, or just overall uncomfortable digestive symptoms? Then you might be a great candidate for some additional herbal support!
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There are many causes for digestive symptoms ranging from a non-optimal diet, to food allergies, to anxiety and depression, to various GI and autoimmune diseases. In Naturopathic medicine, treating the cause of disease is incredibly important. Sometimes that means changing up our diet, sometimes it means some counseling, and sometimes that means treating with supplements to correct the structural integrity of our GI tract.
Herbs are one of my favorite interventions. They can be as gentle as you need, but they can also pack a powerful punch. Different herbs have different actions ranging from stimulating, to calming, to synthesizing, improving cellular function, etc.
Here I’ll highlight some of my favorite digestive herbs and talk about their actions!
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The great thing about these spices is that you likely already have all of them in you cupboard. From a Chinese medicine perspective, these herbs are warming and pungent.
Cinnamon- This slightly sweet bark help helps stimulate the digestive tract to help increase gut motility. As an astringent, it is particularly good for drying things up, so it can be really useful for diarrhea as well. Lastly, cinnamon is great for relieving gas and bloating.
Anise- This is one of my favorite fruits because of its strong, pungent, and sweet taste. It helps give flavor to herbal combinations, and amplifies the actions of decreasing gas and cramping. Anise also happens to be a great anti-spasmodic for those of you with overactive digestive tracts.
Ginger This is a super powerful spice, known for stimulating the circulatory and digestive system. It is wonderful for reducing nausea, cramping, and gas due to it’s warming nature. Care is advised as ginger can definitely increase absorption of other drugs
Turmeric- This herb makes a rich yellow compound called curcumin, commonly found Indian cuisine. It is an anti-inflammatory, and choleretic which means that it creates more bile. Bile helps us digest fats.
Mint can sometimes be a little much for people (myself included), but if you’re a fan of this family, you're in for a lot of healing, particularly when there's gas or nausea involved.
Peppermint-There is no doubt that peppermint if one of the best relaxing and relieving herbs out there. It has a direct action on smooth muscles, and helps relax an overactive GI tract. It also happens to be a mild anesthetic, which great for reducing nausea
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Lemon balm- I love lemon balm for treating digestive tract disorders, that are specifically related to anxiety. Lemon balm is a nervine, so it helps to relax an overactive nervous system. It helps us process things emotionally and gastrointestinally, so it’s great for indigestion support too.
Chamomile- This is my personal favorite digestive herb, because it is a nervine and it helps with sleep and inflammation as well. Chamomile is a “bitter”, which means it helps the digestive tract produce more “digestive juices” in order to better digest foods! Chamomile and other bitters are best taken before a meal so that the meal can be digested right away.
Dandelion-I really like Dandelion root because it is very grounding energetically. Dandelion calls for us to slow down, re-ground, and digest. Specifically, it is a bitter like chamomile, and helps produce and move bile to aid in digestion. Overall, it is a very tonifying and supportive herb!
Have you tried any of these spices for digestive relief? Have any others to add?
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