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.
… 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.
… 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.
… 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.
… 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.
… 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.
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See you next time!