Botanical Tonics for Digestion

Digestive disorders can be simple like flatulence or gas, or they can be much more serious, such as Crohn’s disease. But regardless of the severity of the disease, there is no doubt digestive disorders affect far more people than they should, especially in the United States. A recent survey reports nearly 74 percent of all Americans are living with digestive issues. Most people don’t report it to their doctors either, because they assume it is normal to have gas, bloating or abdominal pain. But these symptoms can be indicators of much more serious underlying problems.

The gut is also the “second brain” of the body. When there are problems in the gastrointestinal tract, it can manifest mentally as well as physically. The enteric nervous system, our gut/second brain, is composed of more than 100 million nerve cells that line the gastrointestinal tract from the esophagus to the rectum. The ENS can trigger emotional shifts experienced by those suffering from gastrointestinal issues. But what science is also discovering is that emotional problems can also trigger issues in the ENS. It’s a two-way street and if one is out of whack, then the other may be also.  

There are ways we can help our gastrointestinal tract and digestion, though. Chinese Medicine (CM) is a medical system that has been around for thousands of years, and it focuses on treating the person holistically, meaning every part is addressed at once instead of individually. CM uses modalities like acupuncture, acupressure, botanicals, formulas and nutrition to treat each patient. Here are some botanicals used frequently in CM to help with digestion and gastrointestinal issues.

Dandelion or Pu Gong Ying

This botanical has been used for millennia for liver and digestive problems. It is used specifically for its diuretic properties. Pu Gong Ying promotes healthy digestive functioning and unlike pharmaceuticals used as diuretics, this botanical actually restores potassium rather than depleting it.

Hawthorn Berry or Shan Zha

Shan Zha is a great botanical to have on hand after those big family dinners, like Thanksgiving. This botanical works to remove food stagnation in the digestive tract, and it works especially well on meats and fats that are harder to digest.

Orange Peel or Chen Pi

One of the best botanicals around for regulating the whole digestive system. It is used for spleen and stomach issues in CM, including nausea, belching, vomiting, abdominal distention and pain. Due to its bitter flavor, it can also drain dampness that may cause loose stools.

Ginger or Sheng Jiang

Ginger is a great digestive botanical, as well as a warming spice that helps the circulatory system. It is a natural remedy for heartburn and nausea. It also helps expel gasses from the gastrointestinal tract.

Peppermint

While not formerly used in CM, it is still one of the best digestive botanicals available. Peppermint can be used to relieve indigestion, soothe stomach aches and relieve diarrhea caused by colic. It is also a good addition to help treat irritable bowel syndrome.

Botanicals can be very beneficial and help keep the body free from illness. The botanicals mentioned above are just a few examples that would be good to have around if you suffer from digestive issues. Ask us to find out more about these botanicals. We can help you navigate the world of botanical medicines and find the exact combination right for you.

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