Comforting herbs and plants
Medicinal plants are a soothing and effective way to relieve digestive disorders. They can be used internally as infusions, decoctions and tinctures or externally with essential oils.
+ Herbal remedies traditionally have been a very effective treatment for many ailments since prehistoric times, before humans developed modern medicine. These remedies in many cases are also edible herbs and foods. Over time and throughout cultures, we have incorporated many herbs as common spices in cooking, as with ginger, laurel and dill. The use of herbs in culinary arts is not coincidental. Other than adding flavor and aroma, they also help you to digest better and to avoid gastrointestinal problems. The following list includes medicinal herbs that are great for cooking but also for relieving many digestive ailments. Many of the herbs are well known for their uses and easy to find.
You should always consult your physician before starting any herbal treatment.
- • Parts used. The fleshy and spiney leaves are used. The tissue in the center of the aloe leaf contains a gel, which yields aloe gel or aloe vera gel. A bitter liquid can be extracted from the leaves’ surface layer.
ALOE FOR DIGESTIVE PROBLEMS
- • For slow digestion
Extract juice from the pulp, throwing away the skin which is an irritant. Dilute 1 spoonful in a glass of water and drink this mixture 3 times a day before eating.
- • For constipation
Dilute 1 to 25/30 drops of aloe tincture in a glass of water and drink 1 glass per day. Although it has an unpleasant taste, it is effective. For persistent constipation take between 100 to 500 mg of powder in capsules.
ESSENTIAL OILS FROM A TO Z
It is used to stimulate the immune system, soothe pains, improve digestion and fight flatulence and colic. Inhaling this essential oil can help to calm dizziness and nausea. Combines with clary sage, camomile, and mandarin.
Safety. It increases your photo-sensibility, making it important to avoid direct sunlight after using it. It is not recommended for pregnant women or if you suffer from diabetes.
It is used to calm nausea, upset stomachs and it detoxifies the kidneys and intestines. It regulates menstruation. It can be added to baths, used in massages, compresses, inhalations and vapors. Add to bergamot, lime or sandalwood.
Safety. It is not recommended to be used during pregnancy.
Essential oils are for external use only, they should never be ingested. Keep stored away from children and keep away from your eyes.
- • This plant is native to East and South Africa. In tropical weather it grows wild, but it can be grown domestically in pots without any trouble. It is said that Cleopatra used aloe as a secret beautifying remedy.
- • The plant's liquid is a potential laxative that stimulates digestion. The gel can be used for peptic ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome and to stimulate bile secretion.
- • Parts used. The leaves and flower heads.
- • This spiney plant grows wild in dry, rocky and arid earth, and has been used widely for centuries. During the Middle Ages it was said that blessed thistle could cure the plague, hence its holy name. It helps to soothe wounds and sores.
- • The bitterness of one of the plant's compounds, cnicin, stimulates digestive activity, including the secretion of gastric juices and bile. For upset stomach take blessed thistle as a tincture, mixed with water.
- • Warning. If ingested in excessive quantities, it can cause vomiting.
- • Parts used. The entire plant is used. The leaves (the name comes from its rough toothed leaves) are diuretic and contain a high level of potassium. It has a similar flavor to radishes, and can be eaten raw in salads. When dried it is used as health remedy. The roots are dried or cooked to make a tincture that detoxifies the liver, stimulates the secretion of bile and acts as a gentle laxative.
- • Dandelion seeds float in the air and in fertile ground the plant grows like a weed. Arab doctors have used the plant for its medicinal effects since the 6th century.
GOURMET RECIPE FOR DANDELION LEAVES
To remove excess water and toxins from the body
Mix fresh dandelion leaves, marigold petals and borage flowers and dress to taste. Excellent for a daily detoxifying diet.
- • Parts used. The seeds and leaves. They are used as a spice in cooking, in infusions and to make essential oil.
- • This plant has a number of properties and was used in ancient Egypt. It grows wild in dry arid soil.
- • It is a popular remedy for digestive problems, it helps to relieve gas and regulate digestion. The essential oil soothes spasms and irritable intestines.
- • Nursing mothers can use dill to promote the flow of milk and to prevent colic in babies.
REFRESHING DILL TEA
To soothe inflamed intestines
Pour 1 cup of boiling water onto 1 teaspoonful of dill. Let infuse for 10 minutes, filter and drink without sugar.
ESSENTIAL OILS FROM A TO Z
To revitalize you, add to baths, compresses, massages or inhalations. This oil relaxes your digestive system and helps to get rid of gas. It also acts as a skin antiseptic and can be used on any type of skin. Because of its soothing effect on the nervous system, it helps to reduce the stress that can cause problems in the gastrointestinal tract. It can be mixed with lavender and ylang ylang oils, to give it a more relaxing effect.
Used to treat diarrhea and good for its complementary effects when blended with other essential oils more specific to digestive ailments. It has a clean and penetrating fragrance that fortifies the nervous system and helps you to relax. It also helps to purify the atmosphere, reducing the toxic factor of stress.
Safety. Shouldn't be used if you suffer from high blood pressure or epilepsy.
- • Parts used. The bulb is edible; the leaves and seeds are used in infusions and essential oils.
- • Native to the Mediterranean, fennel is widely used in traditional Mediterranean cooking.
- • Fennel helps to soothe the lining of the digestive tract. The seeds relieve gas and stomach aches; they also act as a diuretic and anti- inflammatory agent. In infusions, fennel is a tried and tested remedy for relieving bloating and stomach pains. It is an ideal remedy for colic and for teething children, given in infusions or syrups.
- • Warning. The seeds can be toxic if taken in excessive doses.
PREPARATION FOR BABIES
For colic, indigestion, irritable bowels and to stimulate appetite
Boil 1 teaspoon of crushed seeds in a small amount of milk for 5 minutes. Cool and strain; drink at a tepid temperature.
- • Parts used. The roots are used as a spice for cooking. It is also used in infusions or decoctions and to make capsules and tinctures from the root's essential oil.
- • The dried rhizome of ginger root has a spice taste, and is used as a common spice in Asian cooking.
- • Ginger is cultivated in different parts of Asia and is one of the most efficient natural remedies for the digestive system, in particular to treat indigestion, colic, nausea and gasses. Its antiseptic properties help in cases of gastrointestinal infections.
- • Warning.
Avoid if you suffer from peptic ulcers.
- • For nausea. It's recommended to drink a cup of ginger tea 3 times a day.
- • To regulate digestion. Drink 30 drops of tincture diluted in a glass of water, 2 times a day.
ESSENTIAL OILS FROM A TO Z
Adding geranium to baths, compresses, massages or inhalation tones the kidneys and liver, producing a detoxifying effect. It also helps to clean digestive mucous. The aromatic flowers and leaves exuberate the air and have euphoric properties, which can be complemented with bergamot oil. Geranium oil added to a hot bath can leave you relaxed and when added to a tepid bath, revitalizes you.
It can clean mucous in the intestines and relieve hemorrhoids.
Safety. Do not use this oil during pregnancy because it can induce labor.
- • Parts used. The leaves are used as a spice and to make essential oil.
- • Native to the Mediterranean, it is used widely in regional cooking.
- • Rich in minerals: manganese, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, sodium and zinc. It stimulates the digestive system and acts as an antispasmodic. It also protects the liver and is carminative. It increases gastric fluids and tones the stomach, supporting digestion and proper functioning of the stomach and liver. It also helps to prevent acidic secretion and intestinal spasms.
- • Warning. Do not take in high doses because this remedy can be toxic. This herb can cause over-stimulation of the digestive system and produce vomiting.
PREVENTING DISORDERS WITH BAY LAUREL
Drinking bay leaf tea can help to prevent ulcers. Prepare a tea by adding several leaves to a cup with boiling water. Steep for 10 minutes, strain and drink 2 cups daily.
- • Parts used. The seeds are rich in fiber and oils.
- • Native to warm climates in Europe and Asia. It has been cultivated for over 7,000 years in the Middle East, where it is known for its medicinal properties. It contains essential fatty acids, mucilage, proteins and lignans that have a sedative effect on the respiratory system.
- • The whole seeds blended with abundant water act against irritations in the digestive tract and as a laxative. If they are broken before eating, they give off essential fatty acids.
- • Warning. You should not ingest green flax seeds, which can be toxic. You should not use flax seeds if you suffer from a serious intestinal obstruction.
ESSENTIAL OILS FROM A TO Z
Improves digestion and helps relieve constipation. Regulates acids in the body, soothing ulcers and reducing stomach acid. For its fresh and penetrating aroma, add to baths, inhalations and massages, especially when blended with camomile and sandalwood.
Safety. If used on the skin, it's recommended in low concentrated doses and not to expose your skin to direct sun because it increases photo-sensibility.
This oil with its penetrating aroma, similar to lemon, regulates the digestive system, relieves indigestion and nausea. It can be combined with other oils, because it is an expensive oil and difficult to find. If you are suffering from digestive problems, stress or need a pick-me-up, nothing is better than adding this oil to a bath or inhalation along with ginger or basil.
Safety. It is not good to use during pregnancy.
BATH FOR CHILDREN
For colic or irritability
For children who suffer from colic or if they are cranky or tired, add 1 cup of camomile infusion to a warm bath, 1 cup for every 2 cups of water.
For irritable bowel syndrome
Take 1 teaspoon of chamomile tincture diluted in #fr1/2> cup of water 3 times a day. Keep in mind that tinctures shouldn't be administered to small children.
- • Parts used. Flower heads are used fresh in infusions or to make tinctures and oils. The flowers are similar to marigolds, but smaller.
- • Camomile grows wild, although it's grown in several warm climates in Europe and the US.
- • Gives excellent results when used in treating digestive problems such as pains caused by indigestion, heart burn, gastritis, gases, constipation and colic. Camomile can also be used in cases of hernia, peptic ulcers, Crohn's disease and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Camomile can be administered to children to relieve colic, because it is gentle on the body and doesn't present any side effects.
- • Warning. As with other species in this plant family, camomile can cause allergic reactions.
- • Parts used. The leaves are used, dry or fresh, in infusions. They are also used to make essential oil.
- • A very aromatic plant, native to humid parts of Europe.
- • Infusions help to calm spasms, stimulate bile flow and expel intestinal gases.
- • Warning. Minimum intake for pregnant women and small children.
MINT TEA TO TAKE AWAY AILMENTS
- • Bile problems. Drink an infusion prepared with 2 teaspoons of mint added to 1 cup of boiling water. Let steep for 10 minutes, strain and drink after meals. You can also dilute 40 drops of mint tincture in 1 glass of water and drink after meals.
- • Nausea and vomiting. Drinking a cup of the same infusion 3 times a day can help to soothe symptoms. If you can't keep down liquids, drink 1 spoonful every 5 minutes.
- • Digestive, antispasmodic, to fight gas, irritable intestines and halitosis. Drink 1 cup of infusion or 40 drops of tincture diluted in 1 glass of water after meals.
ESSENTIAL OILS FROM A TO Z
Breathing in the aroma or massaging with the oil can improve digestion, soothe an acid stomach and cure nausea. English sailors in the 16th century took limes on board to prevent scurvyc, a disease caused by lack of vitamin C, that causes fatigue and hemorrhaging. Added to baths and inhaled, it can be blended with angelica and bergamot.
Relieves stomach pains, detoxifies the body and helps in cases of nausea. As its name suggests, it is one of the most relaxing and sedative oils that can help to calm you down when suffering from digestive ailments. It's ideal to use in baths or massages. Mix with rosemary or ylang ylang.
Safety. Excessive use can make you lethargic.
For preventing vomiting and diarrhea
Prepare a tea with a pinch of ground nutmeg in 1 cup of hot water.
To aid digestion
Use ½ teaspoon of ground nutmeg daily as a spice in cooking.
- • Parts used. The kernels which are large and hard. They are used ground, as a cooking spice and for curative infusions.
- • Native to the Molucca Islands (known as the “Spice Islands”), the spice has been used since ancient times for medicinal use.
- • Nutmeg acts on the stomach to improve digestion, stop vomiting and expel gasses. Its digestive properties are particularly good to calm indigestion caused by eating fatty or oily foods. It also helps to relieve headaches and insomnia and acts as an aphrodisiac.
- • Because of its volatile substances, it's best to grind nutmeg right before using.
- • Warning. Nutmeg should be used in small quantities, because they contain myristicin, a hallucinogenic and toxic substance.
- • Parts used. Fruit (fresh peppers) that are prepared in infusions or tinctures, salves, tablets and oils.
- • Cayenne, which is native to India, arrived to the West around 1500 AD. It is used in cooking all over the world for its spicy taste.
- • The fruit can be used medicinally to improve digestion, soothe flatulence and colic and to stimulate gastric secretion. It can also curb certain types of diarrheas. The seeds possess antibiotic properties to prevent infections in the digestive tract.
- • Warning. You should not eat cayenne pepper if you have peptic ulcers or serious heartburn. When used as medicine, it's suggested not to exceed the dose recommended by professionals. The seeds should not be eaten alone, and it is important to avoid touching your eyes or open wounds after handling peppers. Do not use during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
ESSENTIAL OILS FROM A TO Z
This botanical oil is a sedative and acts on the digestive system to relieve spasms. It can be used to treat colon disorders, diarrhea and dyspepsia. It mixes well with bergamot and jasmine, making a relaxing therapy.
It has gentle de-purifying effects on the intestines and tones the digestive system and gastric functions. Its essential oil can be used to calm indigestion in children by using them in massages over the area of the bile duct. It is not toxic or irritating. It can be blended with bergamot and lemon oil, as a stimulating citric mix.
A SAVING RECIPE
Drink ½ teaspoon of sage tincture diluted in water twice daily.
A CLASSIC TEA
For colic and inflamed intestines
Make a tea using 3 or 4 sage leaves for every cup of boiling water, allow to steep for 10 minutes and strain. You should drink 3 or 4 cups a day. For children and elderly make a lighter tea using fewer leaves or more water.
- • Parts used. The leaves are used as a culinary spice and in infusions. They are also used to make tinctures and essential oils.
- • This plant has been used for various homeopathic remedies since ancient times. Sage comes from the Latin word salvia , which means “to save”.
- • It's used as a digestive tonic, to stimulate the secretion of bile. It helps to eliminate gasses fermenting in the intestines and calm abdominal colic. Because of its astringent properties it can be used in cases of minor diarrhea.
- • Warning. Do not use sage while breast-feeding because it reduces breast milk production. However, sage can be used in moderate amounts during pregnancy and in small doses for children and the elderly. It shouldn't be taken if you have epilepsy.
- • Parts used. The seeds are eaten or used to prepare infusions.
- • Psyllium is a bulk-forming laxative and is high in both fiber and mucilage. The laxative properties of psyllium are due to the swelling of the husk when it comes in contact with water. The resulting bulk stimulates a reflex contraction of the walls of the bowel, followed by emptying. It is recommended for the treatment of hemorrhoids. Periodically removing excess water in the intestines fights against diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis.
- • Maximum dose is 1 tablespoon taken 3 times daily, with plenty of water (at least 8 cups) to avoid obstructions in the intestines.
- • Warning. Using psyllium can cause abdominal gas, as with other fiber rich products.
PSYLLIUM SEED INFUSION
Pour boiling water in 1 cup with 2 teaspoons of psyllium seeds, allow to cool and strain. Drink the liquid. You can also take a teaspoon of whole seeds at night.
ESSENTIAL OILS FROM A TO Z
A strong oil that relieves stomach aches is extracted from yarrow. It stimulates the secretion of gastric juices, improving digestion and increasing the amount of nutrients absorbed. It can be added to baths, inhalations and massages for cases of diarrhea, flatulence, pain in the bile duct or gastrointestinal colic. Mixing with angelica and rosemary, yarrow's curative properties become stronger.
It is an intestinal antiseptic which controls stomach ailments. When added to a gentle massage or vapors it can help to relieve mild food poisoning. Blend with sandalwood, rose or neroli.
Safety. This oil should not be used in excess because it can cause occasional nausea.