We all hear about it. Gut health is so important. It’s essential to healthy immune function, emotional well-being, and our overall vitality.
Inflammation is in all things with gut issues whether you’re talking about Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and all of your "itis" issues: colitis, gastritis, arthritis pain, depression, or even Crohn's and various skin eruptions. They can all be traced back to the health & inflammation happening in your gut. There are over 3 million Americans with IBD. With so many people suffering from various autoimmune disorders, Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, it’s clear this is a major problem in our world today. I’m going to share a few of the herbs that help me and my gut, and may be able to help you too.
It’s important to remember that this is what works for me, and people I’ve helped. It doesn’t mean that it’s the right herb for you. That’s not how plant medicine works. You are unique. The plants are unique, and the way in which they work with your body is unique to you. It’s important to take the time to feel and assess how each herb works within your body. This can often be done in a much easier fashion when you’re working with a qualified herbalist, naturopath, or other health care practitioner. This goes the same for foods you’re ingesting. The food we put into our bodies is what determines the health of our gut, our minds, our immune system, and our entire being as a whole. Some foods, your body may be sensitive too, but your friend can handle it with no problems at all. So, do yourself a favor and listen.. listen to your body!
Do you get gassy, or feel stomach pain after eating a certain food? How does your body digest the food? Are you having regular/daily bowel movements? Ideally, you are able to expel your foods via your poop within 12-24 hours. However in our culture it’s more like 24-48 hours.
Let’s talk about Plants
Lets talk about You and Me,
Let’s talk all about all the good things and the bad things like IBD
Let’s talk About Plants… Let’s talk about plants!
Oh, beautiful chamomile. I know I talked about this herb in the last episode where I talked about bitter herbs, but chamomile is so amazing for gut health and easing inflammation, it definitely deserves some mention again. It’s specific for those suffering from gastritis, and can even help prevent ulcers. There’s a constituent found in German chamomile essential oil called bisabolol that has been shown to speed up the healing process of ulcers. Though, this is harder to extract via tea or water, and is best extracted via the tincture or the essential oil.
Chamomile can help calm smooth muscle spasm of the digestive tract which can cause severe abdominal pain. It’s really a great tummy herb as it eases many other inflammatory issues in the digestive tract. It’s easy to use too. You can take it in a simple cup of tea, and feel benefits rather quickly if you’re dealing with stomach aches or other signs of gastrointestinal inflammation. Or, you can get my Diges-Teas which is also specific for "Lovin Your Gut and Easing Digestion" and happens to have a host of herbs that are amazing for inflammation of the gut, gassiness, bloating and all that good stuff.
It is important to note that I know a lot of people who are allergic to chamomile. So, if you’re allergic to plants in the Asteraceae, or daisy family, then you don’t want to take chamomile. It will cause more inflammation for you.
One of the better digestive herbs out there in helping to treat inflammation is meadowsweet. It helps to soothe and protect mucous membranes of the digestive tract and can help reduce acidity and ease nausea. It’s commonly used in cases of heartburn, gastritis, and peptic ulcers. It’s also great as a carminative to ease gassiness, bloating and tummy upset. Meadowsweet is also a nice herb because it’s rich in salicylates which are commonly found in drug stores under the name of aspirin. Meadowsweet can be particularly beneficial in easy pain in the body, particularly in the muscles and joints, which can oftentimes be a result of inflammation in the gut.
When I think of inflammation in the gut, this is one of the first things I think of. I just love marshmallow for its vast healing properties, particularly where heat and inflammation of the gut are prevalent. I love marshmallow for its cooling demulcent properties. A demulcent herb means that it’s rich in mucilage which is great for soothing and protecting inflamed tissues. Mucilage becomes super slimy and gummy when it comes into contact with water. It’s specific for reducing irritation in the lining of the entire intestinal tract. It also helps if you’re overly sensitive to digestive bitters or gastric acids; it can prevent diarrhea and ease smooth muscle spasms that cause colic and abdominal cramping. The best way to use this for gut inflammation is by a cold infusion.
I use it in my Respiratory Rescue, which happens to also be great for digestive health, most specifically for someone needing help with Acid reflux or Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
These are just a few of my favorite herbs when I think of inflammatory issues in the gut. There are several other herbs that can help too: Plantain, Calendula, Ginger and Turmeric to name a few.
But, as I know many of you may be hopping on the New Year's train, and addressing all kinds of things within your diet. But, I urge you to be mindful in your choices, and remember to be good to your gut!
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*Always remember to contact your healthcare provider when considering the use of botanical medicine as a possible treatment option and the medical considerations. While the information in this article is absolutely relevant, herbs work differently for each person and each condition.
**I am a trained herbalist and not a licensed or registered healthcare practitioner. I cannot diagnose health conditions, nor prescribe medicines legally; I am not a medical doctor. However, I will recommend or suggest medicinal herbs for various health complaints, as I do believe in the safety and efficacy of botanical medicine.
***The information I’ve provided is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment. Please consult your medical care provider before using herbal medicine, particularly if you have a known medical condition or if you are pregnant or nursing.
About the Author: Melissa Mutterspaugh
Melissa lives in Oregon, in the foothills of Mount Hood. She's a clinical herbalist, environmental educator, mother, wilderness therapist, lover, nemophilist, music loving maniac, and the founder of Mountain Mel's Essential Goods. She is passionate about inspiring others to take better care of our planet, through taking better care of themselves, naturally!