Herb Basics: Herbs for Digestion Problems

| January/February 1999

Inside Action

You know herbs help you from the inside out. But you may be surprised at the array of activities they carry out in your digestive system. Here are just a few.

Antacids reduce excess stomach acid, helping the stomach lining recuperate. These include marshmallow root and leaf, meadowsweet, and hops.

Anti-emetics reduce nausea or vomiting. Three that are safe to use during pregnancy are lemon balm, black horehound, and ginger. Ginger is clinically proven to relieve motion sickness.

Bitters relieve gas and improve digestion. These include chamomile, dandelion, calendula, yarrow, and yellow dock.

Carminatives clear up gas and bloating because they are mild antiseptics ­(normalize intestinal flow) and antispasmodics (reduce spasms by improving circulation). These include culinary spices such as peppermint, cardamom, fennel, aniseed, dill, caraway, and ginger.

Demulcents provide nourishment and soothe inflamed surfaces, inside and out. Plantain adds moisture and encourages movement, and marshmallow, slippery elm, and aloe gel (not the rind, which is a stimulant laxative) soothe irritation in the stomach, intestine, and colon.

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