Written by Josh Gitalis.
Everything begins and ends in the digestive tract.
If the digestive system is not fully functional, every single process in the body is affected. This is why it is so important to “be kind” to your digestive tract and not stress it too much.
Things that stress the digestive tract are:
- Processed and refined foods
- Cold beverages, soft drinks, alcohol
- Poor food combining
- Low fibre diet
- Food allergies and sensitivities
- Chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, BPA, heavy metals)
What's our fave remedy?
Over here, we're digging on the Digestive Bitters. They actually help the body to do what the body is supposed to do!
The use of herbal bitters has been an integral part of almost every cultural tradition in the world. Used as an aperitif to stimulate gastric juices, these mixtures tonify the digestive system in preparation for mealtime. Individuals who have trouble with flatulent dyspepsia—gas, burping, bloating and indigestion—will benefit from this formula. In addition, this combination wonderfully stimulates agnivardhana - the Ayurvedic term for digestive “fire”, a quality that diminishes with age.
- Globe artichoke– Herbalist Kerry Bone classes globe artichoke as a bitter tonic, useful for dyspepsia and its associated symptoms, such as constipation, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, flatulence, belching and fat intolerance. One clinical trial confirmed improved digestion, noting that artichoke improved the assimilation of fat due to insufficient bile secretions.
- Dandelion– Eclectic physicians like John M. Scudder, M.D. praised this lowly weed for its “stimulant influence upon the entire gastro-intestinal tract”.
- Gentian– With its unparalleled bitterness, Gentian represents the standard in digestives. No doubt this inspired herbalist Mrs. Maude Grieve to state emphatically that gentian is “unrivalled as a stomachic tonic.” Eclectic physicians Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D. and John Uri Lloyd, Pharm. D., Ph. D. explain further that gentian should be used “where the powers of life are depressed and recovery depends upon (the) ability to assimilate food.”
- Fennel– The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeialists dyspepsia as a traditional indication for fennel.
- Chamomile– “As a popular remedy, (chamomile) may be thought of as the European counterpart of ginseng,” writes Varro Tyler, as quoted by herbalist Steven Foster. “The Germans describe it asalles zutraut– ‘capable of anything’,” Tyler adds. The great German herbalist and physician Rudolph Fritz Weiss, M.D. asserts that “patients with chronic stomach complaints would greatly benefit from” chamomile.
- Turmeric– Classified as a stomachic in Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric is traditionally used for poor digestion. In the Western tradition, turmeric is additionally classed as an aromatic digestive stimulant.
- Burdock root– Eclectic physicians used burdock to aid digestion. Finley Ellingwood, M.D., for example, writes that, “Its influence upon the mucous membranes of the stomach encourages normal … secretion and promotes digestion.”
- Black walnut– The hulls are very bitter in taste. Alma Hutchens explains that black walnut hulls are “highly extolled as a remedy in the treatment of bilious and cramp colic.” She adds “flatulence” as the clinical indication.
- Cardamom– The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia gives “flatulent dyspepsia” as a specific indication for cardamom. Cardamom is pleasant tasting and, as a “warming” herb, counteracts the “cooling” nature of bitter digestives.
- Ginger– In most traditional systems of medicine, including the Ayurvedic and the Chinese, ginger is standard as an aid for the digestion.
- American calamus– Eclectic physicians favoured this medicine for “cases of flatulent colic, atonic dyspepsia, (and) feebleness of the digestive organs”.
According to your friendly neighbourhood therapeutic and evidence based nutritionist, Josh, digestive bitters are extremely important for maintaining abundant health because:
"Herbal bitters are an extremely valuable aid in maintaining good health. By enhancing secretions of the liver, pancreas, stomach, and small intestine, they revitalize a whole range of digestive functions, providing rich enzyme catalysts, which improve nutrient absorption."
Question of the Day: How do YOU try to be kind to your digestive tract?