Herbal remedies have been around for thousands of years. Herbs can help with digestion and gut health, which is key to your overall wellness. Why is the gut the key? Because up to 90% of our immune system resides in our gut. Keeping the gut in top shape is key to keeping the rest of your body healthy. Herbal remedies can help with every stage digestion, which is the main function of the gut.
There are hundreds of herbal remedies. Which herbs will help you most depends on what part of the digestive process is the root of the problem. First consider which digestive issues you have: indigestion, constipation, stomach cramps, gas, bloating or diarrhea. Digestion begins in the stomach, moves to the large intestine and ends in the small intestine.
Starting at the front of the process here are three herbs that help to speed up digestion in the stomach. These herbs share one common trait, they are bitter. You may have seen someone “drinking their bitters” in an old television show or read it in a classic novel, It is an old digestive hack and a European tradition. Many Europeans drink a bitter before eating to get the stomach ready to break down what’s coming. These herbs can also help to reduce bloating and gas.
1.) Gentian is the most common bitter in our western culture. The root of the plant and sometimes even the bark are used to make medicine. It can be found in a liquid form. Learn more about gentian.
2.) Barberry root – there are several varieties of barberry root, Nepalese Barberry and Indian Barberry. This herb is a bitter herb stomach tonic and it also helps with constipation. Learn more about barberry.
3.) Dandelion – We typically think of dandelions as a weed but it turns out they can be used for all kinds of drinks because they are rich in Vitamin A, B, D and D as well as many minerals. There are many varieties of dandelion tea available. Dandelion can stimulate your appetite and help with digestion. Watch this video for more information.
Moving from the stomach to the intestines, these herbal remedies help with everything from constipation to gas and stomach cramps.
4.) Aloe Leaf (or aloe vera) – We have all used this for a sun burn but did you know it can ease digestion and relieve constipation? Read more about aloe vera. If you consume aloe vera, make sure it is real.
5.) Chia Seeds – Chia seeds have many benefits for digestion. They are high in Omega-3 fatty acids and fiber and they are anti-inflammatory. Because they are high in fiber, they can help with constipation. Chia seeds are also widely available in grocery stores, where some other herbal remedies are not. Chia seeds can be added to a smoothy or added to baked goods. Read more about chia seeds.
6.) Cumin- Cumin is the super-powered herb because it helps with so many different problems. You can often tell when something has cumin in it because of the intense yellow color. Cumin aids in digestion but that is just the beginning. It also improves immunity, helps with insomnia, cancer, asthma, the common cold, anemia and bronchitis. Read more.
7.) Artichoke – artichoke helps with different parts of digestion, specifically the liver and gall bladder. It helps promote bile production, which comes from the gallbladder, and helps with the digestion of fat. Artichoke can be eaten steamed, roasted or in an extract form. Learn more.
8.) Lemon balm – Lemmon balm can help with gas and bloating and is also helps to calm your nervous system. This herb is good to use if your digestive problems relate to stress. Learn more.
9.) Marshmallow Root – Marshmallow root helps to promote moisture within the intestines which can help with constipation. Learn more.
10.) Mullein Leaf – Mullein Leaf is an anti-bacterial leaf that has long been used to treat many digestive related issues. It helps with diarrhea, constipation and hemorrhoids. Learn more.
Where to find herbal remedies
Many herbal remedies are not available at your grocery store. You can get them at places like Whole Foods or Sprouts. Even easier, most herbal remedies can safely be ordered from online stores like Vitacost or Thrive Market. One important thing to consider, herbal remedies are not regulated by FDA because they are plants. If you want more information about how to find reliable herbal supplements read this article.
“30 Digestive Herbs” from Mother Earth News.