Tea cup filled with chamomile flowers

Natural Remedies for Digestion

As part of my developing series on natural remedies, I’d like to talk about digestion and its converse: indigestion. This process, which requires little conscious effort on our part, still requires care to assist the body in its functions.

There are a few things we can do to take care of our digestion. Otherwise, gas, bloating, and malabsorption of nutrients can result—wrecking havoc on your body, and thus your mind. I find my kindergartener likes to openly talk about gas, but it’s more socially acceptable to avoid it. It’s common to have some gas throughout the day, but too much can be embarrassing, and even painful. There are herbs that can help with this issue. Any herb that soothes the digestive tract, and has a history of minimizing gas, is known as a carminative. Wikipedia describes a carminative, also known as carminativum, as “an herb or preparation intended to either prevent formation of gas in the gastrointestinal tract or facilitate the expulsion of said gas, thereby combating flatulence.” There are a good amount of herbs to assist in this way including:

AllspiceAniseCamomileCaraway
CinnamonCloveCorianderDill
FennelGingerLemon BalmNutmeg
OreganoPeppermintSageThyme

These are just a few of the herbs that can help with digestion. Pick three that sound appealing to you. Whatever you may have around the house, may be a good place to start. Make a tea with the herb(s) of choice, by placing a pot of water on the burner over medium heat and letting the herbs steep together until the aroma fills the space. Strain. Then drink slowly for either 15-30 minutes after or before a meal to reduce the gas produced. Drinking the tea before would be prepping the digestive system to get ready. If it’s after, the goal would be more to fight off the indigestion. Adding these spices to the food you make can really enhance digestion as well. Play with these and see what works best for you.

Please keep in mind that it helps to eat more slowly, chewing your food completely. Try to be relaxed when you’re eating. Easier said than done sometimes, I know. But remember, it’s not a race, and your food should be enjoyed. Indigestion can be worsened by stress because there are nerves (affected by stress) going up and down the G.I. tract. The digestive system is endowed with its own, local nervous system referred to as the enteric/intrinsic nervous system (ENS). Together with the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, these three nervous systems make up the autonomic system of the body.

Probiotics

The term probiotic in Latin translates into “for life.” Keeping that fact in mind, did you know that most of our immunity is in our gut? ‘Tis true! Knowing that fact, we can conclude, in order to stay healthy, our gut-biome needs to be functioning well. In order to do so, it needs certain bacteria to be present. A balance of bacteria helps us digest the food we eat, giving us energy for the things we choose to do. Stress, either physical or emotional, can alter the gut’s population of bacteria. So introducing new beneficial bacteria into our bodies will help us stay healthy.

A few ways on how to do this are listed below. Take a look and see what jumps out to you.

  • Kefir: This is a thick fermented milk. I have used it myself and have found that, because of its diverse bacteria profile, it has greatly reduced my gas and increased the absorption of nutrients. I can tell by the energy I have after I’ve incorporated it into my diet. Look into it if you’re curious.
  • Sauerkraut: This is another fermented product. During the fermentation process, live bacteria are produced. This is where beneficial bacteria come from. Humans have been eating fermented food for health for centuries. Sauerkraut is a good form of dietary fiber and carries vitamins C and K, as well as potassium, calcium, and phosphorus.
  • Greek Yogurt: This protein-rich yogurt is better than regular yogurt in my eyes. The higher protein content brings a powerful punch to stabilize blood sugar. Since it is another fermented product, it still carries with it the beneficial bacteria.
  • Probiotic Capsules: There are a good amount of these products on the market. If you can’t bring yourself to try any of the above three suggestions, then consider taking a capsule. The directions are even on the bottle, along with a list of all the bacteria inside of each pill.