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Herbs are a natural way to treat digestive problems, but do they work for IBS?

Here are five herbs for IBS that have a history of providing digestive relief: peppermint, fennel, ginger, chamomile, and aloe. Please note, there are some cautions for the last three.

Peppermint

… is relaxing. The tea calms down a stomach ache and acts as an anaesthetic to mucous membranes. Peppermint reduces nausea and vomiting and relieves gas and bloating. It aids digestion, increasing the production of bile by the liver and gall bladder. Definitely a friend to IBS sufferers.

If you are prone to spastic colon, try peppermint oil capsules instead of tea. The caps release their contents in the intestines rather than the stomach, so reach the affected area more effectively.

Fennel

… reduces gas, helps with stomach cramps and bloating, and may help to reduce pain. It is anti-microbial.

When you chew a few fennel seeds, not only will they help your digestion but they will freshen your breath! You can also make a tea from the seeds. Steep for at least 5 minutes. If you are prone to UTI’s (urinary tract infections), making a tea from the roots may help.

Ginger

… has actually been tested with navy men and pregnant women (not in the same study!) and was found to relieve nausea and vomiting. Ginger is anti-inflammatory but is also something of a stimulant, so if you have problems with spasms, it may not be your best choice.

Ginger is very portable. You can take along a few capsules of ginger root powder when you go out and make your own tea wherever you are. Just open a cap and sprinkle some of the powder into boiling water. You won’t need the whole cap – a little ginger goes a long way! Add honey or stevia and a little lemon juice, if desired. This tea is soothing not only for digestion but also for those inflamed mucous membranes when you have a cold.

Chamomile

… has many healing properties. It is anti-spasmodic so should help to relieve cramps, it is anti-inflammatory, and is anti-microbial so it helps to control and balance bacteria. Chamomile tea is used to prevent heartburn, gas and bloating, and some evidence suggests it can be helpful for diarrhea.

It is also a sedative so can make you relaxed and sleepy. Don’t drink it when you need your full ability to concentrate!

One big problem with chamomile is that, if you react badly to ragweed or have a ragweed allergy, you will probably have trouble with chamomile. No worries! Many of the herbs listed above have similar beneficial qualities so try one or more of them instead.

Aloe

… is yet another anti-inflammatory (isn’t it nice how Nature makes so many useful plants? BTW, one reason the anti-inflammatory aspect of these plants is important is because when you have pain, there is usually some associated inflammation helping to cause it. When you relieve inflammation, it can help to relieve pain.)

Apparently there is little clinical evidence about aloe, but it is said to have a laxative effect about 10 hours after drinking 2 – 4 ounces of gel or liquid. So, if you have IBS-C, it may be helpful. Choose an unsweetened variety.

However, aloe has several cautions. First, it is not recommended for people with Crohn’s, Colitis or IBS-D. This is because it may cause diarrhea and cramping.

Pregnant women should also avoid aloe. The inner lining of the aloe leaf contains latex and latex can trigger abortion. (Yikes!)

Using aloe long-term may also give you a potassium deficiency, and if you are on any medications – particularly for heart or diabetes, you will need to check with your doctor if aloe is compatible with them.

So there you have it. Please leave a comment below and let Kathy and me know about your favourite herbs for digestion and how the herbs mentioned above work for you.

Also, if you liked this content, sign up on the right for updates and grab a copy of our IBS report. It’s free! ->

See you next time!

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Comments (25)

  1. carmen

Hi Ladies,

It has been my experience that by useing loe with the pulp. helped my chronic diahhrea and cramps. However some brands of...

Hi Ladies,

It has been my experience that by useing loe with the pulp. helped my chronic diahhrea and cramps. However some brands of liquid Ale madethe diarrhea worse, but the Aloe with the pulp, made in queenslnd helped make it much better.

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  1. Karen of No IBS

Hi Carmen,

Thanks for your comment. That's very interesting about using aloe with the pulp. Is there a brand name that you'd like to...

Hi Carmen,

Thanks for your comment. That's very interesting about using aloe with the pulp. Is there a brand name that you'd like to share for others who live in Oz?

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  1. Betg

I have heard from a dietician, that aloe is bad and that it causes a cathartic colon! I have always been told to stay away from it, alough I must admit, I do use it when in a bind (pardon and pun) and it works like a laxitivie! Are you sure it's...

I have heard from a dietician, that aloe is bad and that it causes a cathartic colon! I have always been told to stay away from it, alough I must admit, I do use it when in a bind (pardon and pun) and it works like a laxitivie! Are you sure it's safe because I heard the oppossite. To stay away from it, along with senna.

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  1. Jennifer Roy

Interesting info - I have never felt better when I use ginger or aloe - worse, actually, with more diarrhea. I always thought something was wrong with me!!!! Thanks for the wisdom. I'll stick to peppermint tea - that always seems to be helpful.

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  1. Karen of No IBS

Thanks for your comment, Jennifer. Your experience goes to show that not all herbs are meant for all people with IBS or other digestive problems.

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  1. Karen of No IBS

I have heard from a dietician, that aloe is bad and that it causes a cathartic colon! I have always been told to stay away from it, alough I must admit, I do use it when in a bind (pardon and pun) and it works like a laxitivie! Are you sure it's...

I have heard from a dietician, that aloe is bad and that it causes a cathartic colon! I have always been told to stay away from it, alough I must admit, I do use it when in a bind (pardon and pun) and it works like a laxitivie! Are you sure it's safe because I heard the oppossite. To stay away from it, along with senna.


Hi Betg - The reality is NOTHING is safe if you react to it. That's why we mentioned that there are cautions for at least three of these herbs (aloe, camomile and ginger.) But peppermint and fennel could be a problem for some people. Anything you put in your mouth you use at your own risk. So in this post, I'm not saying whether or not these herbs are safe, I'm simply pointing out the qualities they are known to have. If you react badly to aloe or senna, or anything else, DON'T USE IT!

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  1. George Peats

Thanks for the information, especially on the last three items. The first two items , i used frequently. I ordered my peppermint and fennel seed teas because they are made from organic leaves.And you are so right they are very soothing to the...

Thanks for the information, especially on the last three items. The first two items , i used frequently. I ordered my peppermint and fennel seed teas because they are made from organic leaves.And you are so right they are very soothing to the tummy.
George

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  1. Karen of No IBS

Hi George,
Glad to know peppermint and fennel work well for you. I like them too!

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  1. Karen of No IBS

P.S. - George, so nice to hear from you!

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  1. Cheryl

This is amazing, everyone swears by aloe, but it did nothing to help me. I was gutterd, as I thought it was a miracle cure. Thanks Ladies for your wisdom.

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