5 Herbal Infusions You Can Use for Better Digestion (That Means Better Skin Too!)
by Toffler Niemuth
While digestive issues may send many people running for the nearest bathroom or pharmacy, with this guide you’ll be able to find go-to digestive remedies in your kitchen or garden.
Nature provides us with so many healing plants and herbs, including those for most, if not all, digestive complaints from nausea to constipation and bloating. We just need to remember and tap into her wisdom.
1. GingerGinger has been used for millennia by both Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda to strengthen digestion. Chinese medicine also suggests that ginger quells vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea, and relieves abdominal pain. Modern medical research suggests that ginger reduces motion sickness and its associated nausea.
You can use fresh ginger or the dried spice (but make sure its less than 6 months old). Boil water and ginger together. If you don’t like the spiciness of ginger water, add a bit of honey to sweeten it. Allow to cool slightly and drink up anytime you feel nauseous or an upset stomach.
2. FennelYou most likely have fennel seeds in your spice rack–they’re the small seeds that taste and smell like licorice. Fennel seeds have been used traditionally by both Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda to relieve bloating and indigestion. Preliminary research suggest fennel seeds may also help prevent irritable bowel diseases and colitis.
You can drop the seeds into a pot of boiling water and boil for at least 10 minutes to release the essential oils. Alternatively, first lightly the roast or crush the seeds, which also releases the oils, then add to hot water. Drink to relieve bloating.
3. MintThere are two main types of mint: peppermint and spearmint. Research suggest mint may reduce bloating, gas, and stool frequency. Both act as muscle relaxants which may help relieve the feeling of being overfull as they soften the connection with the esophagus. Sufferers of heartburn or GERD need to be careful with this remedy, though, as it can actually make these symptoms worse. Peppermint can reduce muscle spasms, which may help relieve pain or cramps associated with indigestion. It also encourages bile flow into the small intestine, which can help to break down food, especially fats.
To get the benefits of mint, you can chew a mint leaf or add fresh or dried leaves to hot water. It’s best not to boil mint as that will destroy its volatile oils. Enjoy mint after meals for its calming effect.
4. RosemaryRosemary is a hardy herb that grows well in a kitchen or patio herb garden. It eases digestive complaints including stomach cramps by relaxing muscles in the digestive tract. Rosemary also encourages bile secretion for improved digestion of fatty foods. It can reduce bloating and constipation and act as an appetite stimulant.
Rosemary can be added to boiling water and then allowed to infuse for about 10 minutes. Drink throughout the day to improve gastric tone and reduce indigestion. Rosemary also benefits digestion when used in cooking.
5. AloeAloe, commonly thought of to relieve sunburn, can actually be very soothing to digestion as well. The sticky gooey nature of aloe serves to coat the lining of the intestinal tract which may decrease irritation to help heal and repair gastrointestinal ulcers. Aloe vera is known to relieve constipation, though because of its laxative qualities it should not be taken in excess. It also helps detox and cleanse the digestive tract, which can relieve abdominal pain and diarrhea.
If you live in the desert, you may have medicinal aloe in your backyard, or perhaps you’ve added aloe to your home herb garden. If not, dried aloe powder and aloe drinks are available in health food stores. If you use fresh, cut off a small piece of the thick leaf, peel the hard outside to reveal the gooey gelatinous inside. The inside can be eaten with a spoon, blended into smoothies, yogurt, or water. Start with 50 mg, or approximately 1 tablespoon, of aloe per day.
When you look to your own kitchen or home herb garden for digestive remedies, you not only save money on over the counter drugs, but you’re using natural approaches that honor your body, nature, and have been used in traditional healing for millennia. As with any herbal remedies they can be slower to work than modern drugs, but still very powerful, so have patience, treat them with respect, and see how your body responds.