We’ve all had those embarrassing digestion problems. The acid reflux. The heartburn, and that disgusting irritable bowel syndrome. Digestion problems make it feel like there’s an evil little gremlin deep down who hits, pulls and tugs on your insides.
Herbs and natural ingredients have been used as digestion supplements since ancient times. There’s a reason for that. Herbs are a potent and natural method to reduce ailments of the body, be they of the mind, stomach or other. Readily available without a doctor prescription, most herbs are affordable and can easily blend into a busy lifestyle. It’s no wonder herbs have stood the test of time as digestion supplements!
Below are eight of nature’s best, used since antiquity for relief to digestion problems and the embarrassment they cause. But a word of caution, while herbal extracts are natural and generally safe, some herbals can trigger allergic reactions in those predisposed to allergies, particularly to ragweed and related pollens. Always consult with your doctor when starting a new therapy.
Probiotics: Friendly Bacteria – Friendly bacteria? Yes. Probiotics are a good bacteria in the gut that can help proper digestion. They’re good for general digestive health and are believed to reduce diarrhea and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Add probiotics to milk or yogurt.
Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL): For Heartburn Relief – An extract of licorice without the glycyrrhizin, DGL may reduce heartburn and acid reflux. DGL is potent and can alleviate symptoms of indigestion, but is not recommended for pregnant women.
Peppermint Oil: Eases IBS – Peppermint oil appears to reduce pain, bloating and related symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. For best results, use peppermint oil coated in enteric capsules, to pass through the stomach and release in the intestines, where it goes to work.
Chamomile: An Herbal Jack of All Trades – Your mother may have given you chamomile tea to help you sleep as a child, but chamomile can also help with digestive problems like colic, upset stomach and nausea. That said, chamomile may trigger an allergic reaction in people with plant-related allergies. Check with a doctor first.
Ginger: Peace to Your Stomach – Commonly used in Asian cultures to treat stomach aches, ginger may relieve vomiting from nausea and pregnancy. Ginger is widely available, in powder, capsules, tablets or as fresh root. You’ll also find that ginger’s one of the safer herbals, at small doses, of one to three grams a day
L-Glutamine: Your Intestines Will Thank You – While not an herb, l-glutamine is a natural amino acid that supports functions of the intestines and other organs. L-glutamine is available as a supplement and may relieve diarrhea from chemotherapy. L-glutamine may also help absorption of nutrients in some patients, especially people with excessive bacteria in their digestive tracts.
Psylllium: Relief From Constipation – Used in bulk laxatives, psylllium is very high in fiber and absorbs water into the intestines, which makes passage easier. Drink plenty of water when taking psylllium or risk worse constipation. In addition, people with pollen or melon allergies could have a serious reaction to psylllium.
Artichoke: Soothes an Upset Stomach – Artichoke leaf extract can relieve dyspepsia and indigestion. When used daily, it can also reduce nausea, vomiting, gas and abdominal pain. That said, artichoke may set off allergies in people allergic to ragweed and pollens.
Remember that the FDA does not closely monitor dietary supplements, and therefore there’s often no guarantee of their purity or effectiveness. Always read labels with natural digestion supplements and be particularly cautious if you’re pregnant, have an existing medical condition or are taking medications, herbs or supplements.
Having said this, the supplements listed here have stood the test of time. When used judiciously and with caution, they’re an effective and relatively safe way to alleviate digestion problems and reduce those embarrassing runs to the bathroom. Be safe, be smart, and try natural digestion supplements equipped with knowledge and an open mind. You’ll probably feel better for it.