Since over 20 million Canadians and 70 million Americans currently suffer from some sort of chronic digestive issue, I thought a good topic for Nude Food Friday would be how to obtain natural relief from these afflictions. As someone who waded through 9 years of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), I have used many herbs and spices to try and calm my troublesome tummy. Some worked; some not so much. However, all are worth trying if you experience consistent upset stomach, or even if you only get indigestion every now and then. Here are the top 8 spices and herbs that, in my opinion, are stellar at aiding in digestive health. Are you ready to love your gut?
Fennel: Both the vegetable and seed components of this herb support digestive health. “The nutrients in the vegetable help facilitate waste elimination. The essential oil in the fennel seed provides active compounds that soothe the digestive system.” (http://www.livestrong.com/article/511340-fennel-digestion/#ixzz2SCLe1m2Z) I personally like to eat both the stalks and bulb of the vegetable raw or cooked, and I juice with it, too.
Peppermint: This herb is surprisingly easy to grow on your counter and smells GREAT. The minty fragrance not only works well to relieve bloating and dyspepsia, it also is remarkable at eliminating headaches. (Who knew?!) I used to buy roll-on essential oils with peppermint and fennel, and use it on my stomach whenever I felt an eminent flare-up. It worked well, as long as I got to it right away. It acts as a relaxant for the intestinal wall, which definitely helps flare-up symtpoms. You can also purchase peppermint capsules to swallow following a meal, drink peppermint tea, or even munch on the leaves themselves. It all works.
Cayenne pepper: A pinch of this with lemon in warm water first thing in the morning will help stimulate your bowels, by speeding up your metabolism. Trust me– this works. 🙂
Licorice: Helps to protect the lining of the gut by increasing production of mucin. Think pre-emptively here, folks. Preventative measures are better than trying to deal with a situation after the fact. Don’t go buy the candy, though! I’m talking about the real deal– the herb. Chop it up and soak it in hot water. Drink as tea!
Tumeric: This spice that is frequently part of a curry concoction is well known to ease gas. It’s also anti-inflammatory– it helps keep inflammation (bloating) under control. Yay for cumin!
Ginger: Ginger is amazing at reducing symtoms of GERD (acid reflux) and general indigestion. It works by increasing secretion of digestive juice, and reducing stomach spasms. I buy ginger root, cut it up into small pieces, and soak in hot water. Then, I drink the tea and suck on the little pieces at the end. Soooooo good! Or, you can juice with it everyday for a more preventative solution to chronic stomach upset.
Cinnamon: This favourite of EVERYBODY is helpful for sluggish digestion, and is especially helpful for bloating and flatulence. You can soak cinnamon sticks in warm water to make tea, or just sprinkle some powdered cinnamon on top of oatmeal.
Cardamom: (What’s with all the spices/herbs that start with the letter C?!) This spice is the secret to really amazing chai tea. It is said to be helpful in speeding up the digestive tract and reducing gas.
I hope you all get excited and start ransacking your kitchen cabinets and gardens for these herbs and spices…good luck, and thanks for reading! TGIF!