How Do Herbs Help with Digestion?

Posted by WTHN on

Herbs: they may seem small + insignificant to us, but they have a huge impact on our bodies. We use them for so very many reasons. Some herbs are great for supporting immune response, while others help promote mental wellness. 

Let’s take a look at digestion. We usually don’t even realize just how much our digestive action affects us until our stomach suddenly goes south. We’re immediately left to wonder, “What did I eat that didn’t agree? What did I do all day to bring this on?”

Often, your doctor might direct you to an antacid for a quick fix. 

But no matter what your body may be going through, sometimes nature’s elixirs can save the day. 

We’ll look at how herbs promote healthy digestion, and what it means when our bodies may not be processing food like it should. 

Let’s get into it!

So, What is Healthy Digestion?

Digestion is a major factor in keeping your body healthy + happy. After you eat, the digestive tract absorbs and then distributes nutrients to the rest of your body - wherever they’re needed. 

If this major system isn’t functional, the body really isn’t able to operate!

These Key Herbs + Spices Work Wonders for Digestion

So, how do herbs help with healthy digestion? There’s a helpful list of medicinal herbs that double as herbal medicine and cooking ingredients that you may already have on your shopping list. Herbalist practices have been in place a very long time - especially ayurvedic medicine, which used herbs + essential oils for everything from aiding in sluggish digestion and stimulating mucous membrane activity, to calming stomach acid, promoting digestive enzymes + demulcent effects, acting as probiotics, regulating blood sugar and even acting as a laxative

Let’s talk about a few specific ones that are super easy to incorporate into your routine (and may already be there)! The following herbs + spices are known to support healthy digestion, while adding a boost of flavor to any meal.

Basil

Did you know there are 35 different species of basil that can be grown? From sweet to tangy, there’s definitely one that’ll satisfy your taste buds. 

This flavorful herb can act as a carminative, which means it helps to relieve the occasional flatulence + cramping caused by overeating or overindulging. It’s also small enough - and easy enough - to keep/grow in your windowsill.

Bay Leaves

Bay leaves are known to have strong properties, especially when it comes to the digestive system. You can help support your body’s internal processor by regularly adding this herb in meals.

Bay leaves are popular in stews or even on fish to help bring out their flavor.

Chamomile

Have you ever had chamomile tea before bed? Chamomile not only helps support the digestive system, but it also promotes feelings of calmness in the body for a good night’s rest. 

This herb was discovered long ago by the ancient Romans, Greeks + Egyptians, so it has an impressive history to support its use.

Ginger Root

Perfect for a morning pick-me-up, this essential tummy-soother gets your digestive system going for the day by signaling to the digestive juices that it's time to get to work. It can also alleviate mild nausea caused by stomach upset, mild heartburn from overeating or temporary motion sickness

Why not brew a little ginger herbal tea in the AM? Topped with honey + squeezed lemon, it could be your new morning treat.

Turmeric

Turmeric can be your new sidekick to support a healthy immune response. This powerful herb contains curcumin, which helps with antioxidants your body craves.

Cinnamon

Add a little sweetness with a kick to your herb collection. Cinnamon’s been reported to alleviate occasional nausea, upset stomach or mild discomfort caused by indigestion. Add a dash to watermelon for extra flavor, or swirl it in your morning coffee. 

The flavor alone will have you going back to the spice rack again + again. 

In addition to the above, here’s a few honorable mentions that help aid healthy digestion and add flavor to meals: 

  • Fennel 
  • Garlic
  • Rosemary
  • Peppermint (Mentha Piperita)
  • Dill
  • Cardamom
  • Dandelion/dandelion root
  • Licorice
  • Marshmallow Root
  • Fennel seeds
  • Gentian
  • Lemon balm

What are the Health Benefits of Healthy Digestion?

Like any part of the body, all areas of the digestive system work together and support each other. Digestion can affect you in many ways, both good + bad. So, let’s take a look at some of the benefits of a healthy digestive system

  • Healthy weight loss 
  • Better mental clarity + improved mood
  • More energy + overall stamina 
  • Regular bowel movements 
  • Improved nutrient absorption
  • More reliable immune system + disease defense

Sounds pretty great, right? Not only are there physical benefits to keeping your GI system healthy, but mental ones too.

What About the Effects of Bad Digestion?

You knew it was coming. Just as proper digestion has its benefits, lousy digestion has its consequences. We’re sharing a few critical signs to look for if you feel your digestive system may not be on its best behavior:

  • Frequent stomach upset, especially after eating processed foods
  • Weight gain + bloating
  • A feeling of fatigue or the presence of sleep disturbance 
  • Digestive issues noticeable in the stool, especially in color + consistency

Of course, none of these cons sound fun, but there are some ways you can turn these states around and promote healthy digestion.

Some Additional Ways to Improve Your Digestion Naturally

Want some good news? In addition to adding herbal remedies to your daily diet, there are other ways to support your body’s digestive health naturally. Here are just a few of the most beneficial ways we’ve found.

Avoid Artificial Foods

Your body wasn't created to process unnatural foods - and it’ll tell you the more you consume them. While everything is generally okay to enjoy in moderation, be conscious about how you’re alternating what’s on the menu. Your body will thank you later!

Add Fiber to Your Diet

Fiber’s known to support digestion needs. A proper diet with fiber as one of the anchors that will aid your daily routines, so you don’t have to worry as much about whether you’re making regular bowel movements.

Don’t Forget the Healthy Fats

Yes, fats really can be healthy - as long as you stick with the right kind. We’re talking about omega-3 fatty acids, found in natural foods like nuts + fish. Sprinkle some healthy fats across your meals and you’ll be good to go!

Keep Hydrated

Since the majority of our bodies are made up of water, it makes sense that adding water to our daily routine will only help aid digestion and keep things flowing properly. Be sure to replenish throughout the day, especially when exposed to the sun or during a workout.

Reduce Your Stress Levels

Stress not only wreaks havoc on the digestive system, but also on the whole body. Some may even hold stress in one area of the body more than another. Take a step back and look at how stress may be affecting you. You can take additional precautions like meditating or taking breaks from work to reduce feelings of stress, which can potentially cause harm to the body.

Don’t Forget to Chew

Bet you didn’t know that digestion actually starts in the mouth. As soon as you take a bite of any food, take the time to chew. During the course of a busy day you might be tempted to consume that long-awaited meal pretty quickly, but proper chewing is important.

Take your time with your meal and your body will thank you later.

Move and Groove

Keep your body moving! As the body begins to slow down, so does the digestive system. Sometimes, your digestive system needs a workout as much as the rest of your body. Regularly upping your heart rate with cardio is good for your whole body and can help make sure your digestive system is functioning as it should.

Listen to Your Body

Who knows you better than your own body? Your body will talk to you, so you better listen when it’s showing signs that something isn’t right. If your digestive function seems off, you may have developed a new food allergy without even knowing it.

Our Final Thoughts

Still wondering how herbs can help with digestion? Your body may not be reacting well to digestion for so many reasons. For quick remedies to occasional GI discomfort and overall better daily routines, introducing herbs to your diet is one natural way to give your health a little boost. 

Each of the herbs we profiled can help aid in digestion or support the digestive system as a whole, not to mention add some flavor to a less-than-exciting meal. 

However, herbs aren’t a quick fix for every issue. There may be times when working with a medical professional will help you to better assess your unique situation. 

Herbs are an easy-to-integrate, nutritious addition to most diets, and when you take the time to acknowledge what your body’s telling you, you can improve your overall comfort, health + happiness.

Sources:

  1. https://www.houseofwellness.com.au/health/nutrition/herbs-spices-for-gut-health
  2. https://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/foodanddrink/10-common-digestive-herbs-and-how-they-benefit-your-health-a3624266.html
  3. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/ways-to-improve-digestion#section3