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Plant-based Digestive Aids

November 29, 2018

This stuffing contains both fennel and anise, both of which assist in digestion.

Have you ever eaten too much? I think most everyone can relate to the answer being, “uh, yes.” Did your family and friends kick back after Thanksgiving dinner loosening their belts and the top button on their britches? I have known folks to actually change clothes after dinner, myself included.

If you are in danger of eating too much this holiday season, then this is for you. Instead of wearing sweat pants or yoga attire to your next holiday gathering, think about incorporating some of these plant based digestive aids into your diet.

Some plants have a carminative effect. This means they can help relieve flatulence. In a 1948 bulletin from the Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station on medicinal plant culture, they list angelica, anise, coriander, fennel, lavender, sage and thyme as being helpful: kb.osu.edu/bitstream/handle/1811/62558/1/OARDC_research_bulletin_n0677.pdf

Pennsylvania State University online shares a paper written about ethnomedicinal aspects of plants in Nigeria. They included basil, onions, nutmeg, mace, pepper and ginger as potential carminatives: visit: citeseerx.ist.psu.edu and search for “ethnomedicial aspects of plants used as spices and condiments in the Niger Delta area of Nigera.”

Dr. David Jockers, a doctor of natural medicine, provides a very long list of plant-based carminatives and seven reasons for including these powerhouses into our diets on a regular basis. After reviewing this list, I realize I have an alternative natural medicine cabinet in my kitchen: drjockers.com/7-reasons-to-use-carminative-herbs

If you have eaten at an Indian restaurant, you might have noticed small candy coated or spice-infused seeds. These are called Mukhwas. These flavorful digestive aids often contain fennel seeds. The University of Wisconsin Integrative Medicine confirms fennel has been used traditionally for gastrointestinal issues: fammed.wisc.edu/files/webfm-uploads/documents/outreach/im/ss_herbal_teas.pdf

On Dr. Andrew Weil’s website, we learn that chamomile tea can help our digestive system by reducing stomach cramping and spasms. And, deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) also is helpful. Dr. Weil mentions one of my personal favorites, which is slippery elm. These can be purchased in a lozenge and are also good for a sore throat.

Have you ever heard of bitters? Dr. Josh Axe recommends them for various digestive complaints. They often contain a combination of herbs, like cinnamon, fennel, mint and ginger: draxe.com/stomach-pain

I know from personal experience it can be very challenging to maintain moderation during the holidays. Eating too much of anything, even broccoli, will cause you to have tummy issues. If you simply cannot resist that third helping, maybe think about having some Mukhwas or herbal tea on hand.

Since it is the season of sharing, bring enough for you and a friend.

Kelley Rawlsky has an M.S. in horticulture and is the director of Bringing People and Plants Together, an organization dedicated to bringing horticulture education and therapy to the community. For more information: PeopleAndPlantsTogether @gmail.com or follow us on Facebook.

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