Herb for Digestion

Our digestive system is the foundation to well being, it is the most important system in the body and without strong digestion our health is compromised! If we are under too much stress, short or long term and worry a lot it impairs our ability to digest food affecting our body, memory and emotions. If we have been on rounds of antibiotics or other medication for long term it affect the microbiome which affects digestion.

Are you aware that emotional stress weakens digestion?

Are you aware the spleen is part of digestion and too much worries weakens the spleen thus digestion?

I had suffered digestive imbalances from childhood into adulthood. I was constipated, had irritable bowels, horrible bloating and gas and I felt terrible! In my mid-20s I discovered whole food nutrition which aided in my healing process along with eastern and western herbal remedies. During my studies at Bauman College in the 1990s my instructor was a herbalist and her digestive and other blends helped me immensely. So I took a 3-month intensive herbal program with Christopher Hobbs in Santa Cruz, CA and Rosemary Gladstar’s 10-month herbal program in Victoria, BC. I then opened a herbal apothecary with my husband in Victoria, BC called Simple Remedies Herbal Solutions. I spent nine years there until we moved to Nelson, BC.  

Teas made from a combination of herbs help aid in digestion, activate enzymes and increase digestive strength. If you are struggling with digestive issues give herbs a try, I am sure glad I did!

Did you know the gallbladder not only aids in the digestion of fats but aids in the elimination of toxins which are carried out through your bowel movements?

Did you know eating foods that have artificial ingredients and additives are toxic to the body and stressful on digestion?

Metabolism is the breakdown and assimilation of nutrients from the food we eat.

  • Catabolism is the breakdown of nutrients received from the food we eat through enzymes and HCL secretion. 
  • Anabolism in the utilization of those nutrients

Catabolism fuels Anabolism

Are you aware whole foods are the key to physical and emotional balance?

  • Heart/Small Intestine in balance joy and happiness. Imbalance excessive laughter, and sorrow.
  • The Lungs/Large Intestine in balance there is flow and joy. Imbalance lack of flow, crying and grief.
  • Kidney/Urinary Bladder in balance self-confidence and grounded. Imbalance fear, anxiety and cries easily.
  • Liver/Gallbladder in balance drive, purpose, focus and grounded. Imbalance anger, irritability, impatience and shouting.
  • Stomach/Spleen/Pancreas in balance joy, focus, happiness and reciprocity. Imbalance sadness, sloppy in appearance and too much worry.

All food and herbs have at least two flavors; bitter, sour, pungent, sweet, salty and there is a predominate flavor. Food and herbs also have thermal energetic; cold, cool, neutral, warm, hot or very hot.  Example:

  • Peppermint’s flavor is pungent and a cooling bitter
  • Spearmint’s flavor is a pungent and a warming bitter

Pungent and sweet foods and herbs strengthen the spleen, which is part of digestion and the immune system.

 Do you suffer from too much stress or worry? I use to worry all the time, I grew up with a mother who worried excessively around finances, how you looked, what others thought…. Too much worry was one of the many reasons I had digestive problems.

In 2009 I did EEG-Neurofeedback to deal with the excessive worry and it never came back! When I worried too much I began to whirl in my mind, I couldn’t focus on my life. I worried about what others thought of me, I worried about finances, I worried about the state of the world, I worried about….it was all consuming!

Do suffer from any of the conditions listed below? If you do look into your stress levels and diet. When balancing stress and making dietary adjustments to suite your body many of these symptoms disappear. I use to suffered from bloating, gas, IBS, and upset stomach but haven’t in 20 years.

Bloating Diverticulitis
Gas – Belching, Flatulence Crohn’s Disease
Constipation/Diarrhea Colitis
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Inflamed Bowel Disease (IBD)
Nervous stomach/Ulcers Upset stomach

It is important to remember to take the time and practice checking in with yourself before you eat. Take the time to relax and eat foods that are easy to digest.

  1. Start by taking three deep breathes or say a prayer with love and thanks.
  2. When stressed eat foods that are easy to digest – soups, stews, rice congee, protein drink, fresh vegetable juice

Herbs which help support and strengthen digestion:

Fennel seedLicorice rootPeppermint leafTurmeric root
Fenugreek seedOrange or Lemon peelSpearmint leaf

Herbal Dictionary

Fennel Seed: faeniculum vulgare Part Used: seed Taste: pungent/sweet Energetic: warm Effective form/Preparation: extract, oil, decoction, tea Properties: carminative, expectorant, anti-inflammatory Medicinal Use: Helps relieve gas. Assists and improves digestion. Helps with bladder or prostate infections, is used as a tea for eye washes to relieve conjunctivitis and inflammation of the eyelids. Relieves pain and expels mucous. Aromatherapy: antiseptic, antispasmodic, detoxifier, diuretic, insecticidal, stimulant
Fenugreek Seed Trigonella foenum-graecum Part used: seed Taste: Bitter Energetic: Warm Effective form/Preparation: whole seed infusion, capsule, tincture, tea, poultice, sprouts, paste, gruel, milk Properties: calmative, nutritive, stimulant demulcent, alterative, expectorant, antipyretic, regulative  Medicinal Use: Indigestion, mucus, tuberculosis, anemia, convalescence, promotes lactation and hair growth, regulates blood sugar balance, low back pain
Licorice root glycyrrhiza glabra; leguminosae  Part Used: root Taste: sweet Energetic: neutral Effective form/Preparation: pills, tea, tincture, decoction Properties: energy tonic,expectorant, alterative, demulcent, laxative, mild sedative, rejuvenative. Medicinal Use: cough, sore throat, colds, flus, bronchitis, ulcers, low energy, laryngitis, general debility, poor digestion, spasms, thirst, stress, spasms, intoxication, toxicity
Orange Peel citrus aurantium Part Used: peel Taste: bitter Energetic: cool Effective form/Preparation: decoction, extract, oil, tea,  Properties: astringent, carminative, expectorant, rich in vitamin C and bioflavonoids Medicinal Use: Abdominal pain with bloating. Indigestion and gas.   Aromatherapy: anti-depressant, antispasmodic, lymph stimulator, mildly sedative *stomachic
Peppermint Leaf mentha piperita Part Used: leaf Taste: pungent/bitter Energetic: cool Effective Form: infusion, oil, tincture Properties: diaphoretic, aromatic, carminative, calmative, mild alterative, anti-bacterial, anti-viral,   Medicinal use: Upper respiratory. Digestion; specific in colon cleansing. Very good for Crohn’s disease, Irritable bowel and ulcerative colitis. Helps with gas, bloating, nausea and diarrhea. A nervine for migraine headaches, anxiety and tension in the upper neck and shoulders. Body odor and bad breath; toner, mints, oil
Spearmint Leaf menthe virides Part Used: leaf Taste: pungent/bitter Energetic: warm Effective Form: infusion, oil, tincture Properties:  diaphoretic, aromatic, carminative, calmative, mild alterative, anti-bacterial, anti-viral,   Medicinal use: Upper respiratory. Digestion; specific in colon cleansing. Very good  for Crohn’s disease, Irritable bowel and ulcerative colitis. Helps with gas, bloating, nausea and diarrhea. A nervine for migraine headaches, anxiety and tension in the upper neck and shoulders. Body odor and bad breath; toner, mints, oil
Turmeric Root: Curcumae longa or c. aromatic; Zingiberaceae – In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Jiang Huang, Pian Jiang Hugan Part Used: rhizome Taste: bitter/pungent   Energetic: warm (rhizome)  Preparation/Effective Form: decoction, extract, powdered, whole root Properties: alterative analgesic, antiseptic, astringent,carminative, cholagogue, emmenagogue stimulant, vulnerary Primary Use: Liver, digestion, spleen, musculoskeletal system. Turmeric is one of those herbs which can be used internally for liver and digestive stress and externally for tumors, joint pain and more.

Excellent reference books on learning how to make your own herbal blends are by

  • Linda Page, N.D. Ph.D How to Be Your Own Herbal Pharmacist
  • Leslie Tierra, L.Ac., Herbalist The Herbs of Life
  • Michaela Tierra, C.A., N.D., L.Ac., O.M.D. The Way of Herbs

I learned how to use herbs in my life by seeing practitioners who were also herbalist and taking herbal classes. I purchased reference books with herbal dictionaries (Materia Medica) and how to blend a formula. We can all learn how to use food and herbs for good health!

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