Happy Thanksgiving Canada. In honour of the beginning of the overindulgence season I thought I would blog today about some herbs that can help with indigestion, heart burn, bloating and gas. Obviously the best remedy for this is to avoid foods that cause any of these symptoms. However, for most people, this is the time of year for all the good things to eat.
Lemon balm has earned it’s reputation as a calming herb. Not only does it treat anxiety, depression, stress and insomnia, it is also an excellent herb for indigestion. Lemon balm can ease gas and bloating, and calm nausea.
One of the problems which causes indigestion is low stomach acid. Although it seems as if there is too much acid, many times the problem is that there may be too little. Overeating, fatty foods, too much protein can all lead to low stomach acid production. Lemon balm can be effective for this as well. Most times lemon balm is combined with other herbs to treat indigestion. Some common combinations are:
- Lemon balm and Peppermint
- Lemon Balm and Chamomille
- Lemon Balm and Licorice
The caution with liquorice is that if you have high blood pressure this is one of the herbs to avoid.
Cinnamon is an excellent herb for helping to relieve gas. It has been used for weak digestion for centuries. When you overeat you force your digestive system to work as hard as it can. Sometimes it is just too overloaded so it is unable to do its job properly. In heartburn cinnamon can assist as a digestive aid.
Cinnamon is excellent for stimulating gastric acid and preventing stomach cramps. There is even some research showing that certain types of cinnamon can help lower blood sugar.
Chamomille has so many different spellings that it is impossible to list them all. Most importantly it is used as one of the calming herbs. It is excellent for anxiety, stress and insomnia. It is generally safe for everyone including babies.
Chamomille is an antispasmodic which means it is good for calming stomach cramps. Chamomille is an excellent anti-inflammatory which will assist in treating inflammation from gastric distress. Chamomille is an excellent herb for colic as well. If you have a small child you can mix about 1/4 cup with honey for them to drink. With babies try 1/8 cup unsweetened to calm their tummies.
Chamomille also assists in breaking up gas and stimulates digestion.
Fennel is a delicious seed that calms the digestion. It is commonly one of the ingredients of traditional Indian tea. It is also chewed at the end of the meal to assist digestion.
- reduces gas
- stimulates digestive juices
- reduces inflammation
- promotes nutritional absorption
For an impressive list of Fennel’s actions check out the Completewellbeing website.
Last but probably the best known herb for indigestion is peppermint.
Peppermint relieves gas and bloating,prevents stomach cramps and promotes the production of gastric juices. It increases the production of bile which helps the food pass more rapidly from your stomach. It can even be used to treat IBS.
Peppermint along with the other herbs mentioned here is also anti-inflammatory. It reduces inflammation in the stomach as well as breaking up gas to assist your digestive system.
Peppermint should not be used to treat GERD or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease.
The best part of using any of these herbs to treat digestive distress is that most people will have at least one of them in the spice cabinet. From there it is as simple as making a cup of tea.
THIS BLOG IS NOT INTENDED TO REPLACE THE ADVICE OF YOUR DOCTOR.
Bartram Thomas FNIMH, Bartram’s Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, Marlowe & Company New York