I love being able to find something to cure “what ails me” within the shelves of my kitchen. I’m not a doctor, but I’ve been studying and practicing natural medicine and healing for 15-plus years. Today’s glance into “Auntie’s Apothecary” will show you some of the best spices and herbs for your tummy. These are some of my personal favorites.
Common Gut Health Issues
The gut-brain axis is a prime example of the relationship between our gut and our emotional and cognitive functions. Our gut health plays a massive role in our general health and well-being.
Many digestive issues and diseases have very similar symptoms which is why it’s important to see a doctor to find out exactly what’s going on with you. Once you actually know what the problem is, you can better treat or manage it.
- Acid Reflux: Acid reflux is one of the most common gut issues. It happens when stomach acid or bile flows back up into the esophagus. Some causes of acid reflux are pre-existing stomach issues, overeating, laying down before the digestion process is complete, smoking, pregnancy, and certain foods such as spicy food.
- Peptic Ulcers: A peptic ulcer is a sore that forms on your stomach lining, esophagus, or small intestine. When stomach acid damages the lining of the intestinal tract it can cause a peptic ulcer. A bacteria called H. Pylori can cause this to occur and in some cases, anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin can be the culprit.
- IBS Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome: IBS is a very common bowel disorder that affects the large intestine. The exact cause is still a mystery because there are many factors that seem to cause a flare-up.
- SIBO Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth: Our gut houses beneficial bacteria essential for healthy gut functions such as digestion. However, if there’s an overgrowth of bacteria they make their way into the small intestine which can lead to issues. SIBO is typically a symptom of another condition such as Crohn’s disease. So, the actual cause can be traced to several things.
- Leaky Gut Syndrome: Leaky gut can occur when there has been damage to the intestinal walls. That allows things like bacteria to leak out to wreak havoc all throughout the body. Overuse of prescription medications, intestinal injury, and other gut disorders can lead to this issue including SIBO.
Spices & Herbs For Gut Health
Easing inflammation and calming the digestive tract are two key elements for a healthy gut. Let’s take a look at some of my favorites for gut health from the Apothecary.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) ~ Ginger is one of my favorites when it comes to natural healing. A warm cup of ginger tea in the morning can stimulate sluggish digestion. The natural compounds that act as a digestive stimulant also help to stimulate your appetite. Ginger is often used in teas and supplements because it can remove toxic buildup throughout the body — which then enhances immunity and prevents further inflammation. This amazing root is great for dealing with morning sickness during pregnancy; it has the power to relieve gas, nausea, food allergies, indigestion, and IBS. A little ginger tea is also said to be able to kick back the negative effects of a hangover. You can add more ginger to your diet by adding the fresh root to your stir-fries, make some tea, or eat some crystallized ginger.
Calendula (Calendula officinalis- Asteraceae) ~ Calendula is known by a couple of other names including “marigold “and “pot marigold.” Calendula officinalis improves absorption and digestion. It can also reduce inflammation in the intestinal walls, detoxify pathogens, help fight amoebic infections and worms, and aid in the healing of pelvic and bowel infections. By clearing our gut of all of the unnecessary and harmful junk, we allow it to heal. It’s known to contain anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, and antioxidant properties — among other healing things.
Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) ~ Peppermint is an amazing hybrid mint; a cross between watermint and spearmint. Peppermint is known by both Mentha x piperita and Mentha balsamea Wild. The antispasmodic properties found within peppermint essential oil are extremely beneficial in treating IBS. The antispasmodic properties provide pain relief and calm spasms caused by stomach aches, constipation, colic, and indigestion. It naturally eases and eliminates bloating and gas. For those experiencing a loss of appetite, this herb, oil, or tea can help enhance it as well as aid any indigestion. The tannins found in the peppermint plant help protect the gut lining, too. This member of the mint family can assist in fighting ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease as well.
Chamomile (Chamomilla recutita & Chamomilla matricaria) ~ Chamomile tea is known for calming the nerves but it also soothes stress-related digestive issues. It can aid in digestion, reduce heartburn, reduce acidity, and it’s great for babies with colic. Chamomile’s oil, dried flowers, or fresh flowers have been a part of digestive healing for thousands of years. It can resolve infections of the gut such as gastroenteritis. Bisabolol, an alcohol compound found in German chamomile’s essential oil, can help speed up the healing of ulcers. Because it’s rich in bitters, it can help get the digestive juices flowing.
Marshmallow Root (Althaea officinalis) ~ Definitely not going to find gooey and sugary marshmallow treats here! However, you will find that marshmallow root helps coat and soothe the mucous membranes of the digestive tract. It might sound gross, but it’s definitely a great thing to know if you’re trying to combat the effects of heartburn, IBS, and constipation. The mucilage constituent is the real healer. It’s a gel-like substance that naturally attracts water in order to form viscous fluid. Marshmallow root has anti-inflammatory properties as well, making it a great option for healing ulcerative colitis, gastritis, and peptic ulcers.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) ~ Turmeric is a flowering plant and part of the ginger family, Zingiberaceae. You’ll find that it’s a key ingredient in curry dishes. Turmeric aids in the basic functions of digestion, absorption, and metabolism. It regulates the intestinal flora which is necessary for good gut health. It has the ability to soothe the gut’s mucosa, helping to protect the gut during stressful times or periods of excessive acidity. Turmeric’s healing abilities come with the added bonus of reducing the risk of infections like ulcers and gastritis.
When it comes to your gut health, why not maintain a balanced system through the delicious spices and herbs of the world? “Preventative medicine” is my favorite because it usually consists of delish food and drink that also keep us in good shape. Your gut is the center of your body’s “universe” and is so important for your general health. So many issues revolve around gut health and at the same time, so many health issues begin with poor gut health. So let’s keep it in peak shape with these helpful herbs and spices!