30 Digestive Herbs

Regulate digestion with these stomach-soothing digestive herbs.

| May/June 2002

  • Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) is a mucilaginous herb that soothes the gut wall and helps keep the stool moist.
  • Cayenne (Capsicum annuum) depletes nerve endings of substance P, the pain receptor neurotransmitter.
  • Caraway (Carum carvi) is a carminative herb, helping to warm up the digestive tract and reduce gas.
  • Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum) is a mild but useful remedy for sluggish digestion. It also helps relieve bloating and flatulence.
  • Turmeric (Curcuma longa) helps keep digestive inflammation under control—one of its active ingredients, curcumin, has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Artichoke (Cynara scolymus) is a bitter digestive herb that helps reduce gas, bloating and indigestion.
  • Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is a soothing herb that protects against stomach acid and other digestive juices.
  • Flaxseed (Linum usitatissimum) is a natural bulk laxative that provides soluble fiber.
  • Peppermint (Mentha ¥piperita) is an effective remedy for dyspepsia and other stomach troubles.
  • Achieve bowel health and ease digestive discomforts with Western and Ayurvedic herbs.
  • Senna (Senna alexandrina) is a stimulant laxative that should only be used short-term for brief episodes of acute constipation.
  • Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), like artichoke, is a bitter herb that helps relieve indigestion.
  • Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a time-tested digestive remedy for stomach upset.
  • Carminative herbs, like cardamom, warm up the digestive tract, speed up and increase the thoroughness of digestion, and reduce gas.
    Photo by Elena Elisseeva
  • Cayenne pepper can ease pain.
    Photo by vesna cvorovic
  • Warming cinnamon bark is a mild but useful remedy for sluggish digestion. The German Commission E recommends it for loss of appetite, dyspeptic complaints, bloating and flatulence.
    Photo by Kati Molin
  • Cumin is known to help ease gas.
    Photo by CGissemann
  • Flax is a natural bulk fiber laxative.
    Photo by Elena Elisseeva
  • Licorice can help protect the gut linings.
    Photo by Elena Ray/Fotolia
  • Peppermint is a well-known herb for easing tummy troubles. Enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules work well to prevent dyspepsia.
    Photo by Olga Miltsova
  • Fiber sources, like oats, help with regularity.
    Photo by Elena Elisseeva
  • Psyllium seed helps balance bowel function.
    Photo by Elena Ray/Fotolia
  • Herbal medicine helps keep digestion perking along. In one study, 24 patients received a mixture containing dandelion root, St. John's wort, lemon balm, calendula and fennel. Ninety-five percent had relief of colitis symptoms in 15 days.
    Photo by vesna cvorovic

As polite topics of conversation go, constipation, gas, diarrhea and irritable bowels definitely don’t top the list. But we won’t let that stop us. After all, digestive health is important: Your elimination system carries away the wastes of all of your cells, allowing each organ to function in a proper environment. And elimination troubles can put your daily routine out of whack. It’s your good fortune that some simple digestive herbs and effective natural remedies can put you back in balance—and we aren’t too embarrassed to share them with you.

Start at the Stomach

Although a small amount of starch is broken down in the mouth, thanks to amylases in your saliva, the stomach is where the first real action is—where powerful chemicals of digestion are mixed with the food mass. If these digestive juices, including hydrochloric acid, pancreatic juice and bile, are in short supply, the whole process gets off to a poor start.

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.



Contractions move the digesting food slowly toward the large intestine. It normally takes about 90 to 120 minutes for the first part of a meal to reach the large intestine, although the last portion of the meal may not make it there for five hours.

Did you know? Although it’s about 30 feet long, the digestive tract needs smaller helpers, too: acids, enzymes and bacteria all help break down food.

RevNagi
1/23/2018 10:00:14 AM

In your "Helpful Therapies" section you write of magnesium. What type of magnesium are you referring to?


buseen1973
2/15/2015 9:24:57 AM

Here Share with you a list of 7 best foods that can make your digestive system run smoothly and swiftly: http://www.healthdoyen.com/7-best-foods-that-help-digestion.html


Joyce
2/17/2014 9:18:55 PM

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