Herbs That Really Work: Three Herbal Formulas For Common Digestive Problems

herbs that really work recipes Jun 05, 2024

by David Crow, L.Ac


A Simple Formula for Dyspepsia

Mix equal parts of caraway seeds, fennel seeds and yarrow dry herb; steep 1 tablespoon of the
mixture in 1 cup hot water for 15 minutes. This can be sipped hot after meals to promote
digestion, or ½ cup can be taken two times a day fifteen minutes before lunch and dinner, if the
problem is chronic. To increase the potency, add 5 drops of wormwood or gentian tincture to the
1 cup tea.

This formula will strongly activate digestive secretions from the combination of aromatics and
bitters. Caraway is considered the most important herb in traditional European herbology for
treating dyspepsia with upper GI discomfort after eating, food stagnation, bloating and belching.
It is a mild but highly effective carminative that stimulates digestion in the upper and middle GI
tract, supports peristalsis, relieves cramping and discomfort, and has appetizing effects. Fennel is
a common but very effective carminative that gives almost immediate relief from upper GI
stagnation symptoms. Yarrow is mildly bitter and stimulates digestive secretions, and the
wormwood and gentian are strongly bitter and activate secretions of hydrochloric acid, bile flow
and pancreatic enzymes.

This recipe is mild and safe for everyone with simple indigestion, dyspepsia and stagnation in the
upper GI tract. If there is a history of gastritis or high levels of acid reflux, this combination can
be tested at very low doses to see if it benefits the symptoms, since it can be helpful for low
hydrochloric acid conditions, but should not be used if there are any signs of increased acidity.


A Simple Formula for Esophageal Reflux

Prepare 1 cup of chamomile tea, by steeping 1 tablespoon of the flowers in 1 cup hot water for 10
minutes. Blend in ¼ teaspoon of slippery elm or marshmallow root powder, and add ½ tsp each
of licorice and goldenseal tinctures. Take ½ cup of this mixture two to three times a day, sipping
it slowly between and before meals.

This formula gives symptomatic relief of heartburn and mild reflux using anti-inflammatory,
demulcent, sweet, and bitter herbs. Chamomile is the most important herb for virtually every
digestive condition, which gives overall soothing, relaxant, antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory
benefits for the entire GI tract, especially the upper. Slippery elm and marshmallow powders are
viscous demulcent herbs that provide protection and mild cooling effects to inflamed digestive
mucus membranes. Licorice is the most powerful anti-inflammatory for the mucus membranes of
the upper GI tract, while goldenseal provides bitter activation of digestive functions while also
giving some anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial benefits.

This recipe is mild and safe for symptomatic treatment, but licorice and goldenseal should not be
taken for more than two weeks at these dosages. Licorice should not be used by people with
hypertension and kidney diseases but is safe otherwise. This formula can be very helpful for
symptomatic relief of mild Gastric Esophageal Reflux Disease, and can also be part of a more
complex and long-term treatment if the GERD is more advanced and there are medications being used that must be reduced or discontinued, which can cause a rebound of the symptoms.
Chamomile should be avoided by those who know they have an allergy to it or are reactive to
ragweed family plants.


A Simple Protocol to Prevent Constipation

Chronic constipation which has become dependent on laxatives is one of the more difficult
digestive conditions to treat. This tends to develop gradually and is usually linked to factors that
we generally have some degree of control over, including diet, hydration, exercise, and stress. Many times, it will develop more rapidly as a result of excessive detox products or treatments, which overstimulate the colon and leave it in a weakened state. The best treatment for chronic constipation is therefore prevention, which can be done in several stages.

Stage 1: If early stages of constipation are starting, we can follow the well-known protocols that
can restore comfortable regularity without resorting to any herbal treatments. Those are to increase fiber in the diet, increase hydration, increase exercise, increase relaxation, and start doing gentle self-massage of the abdomen.
Stage 2: If these protocols are not sufficient, we can bring in mildly laxative foods into the daily
diet, which include cooked fruits, especially prunes, and shelled hemp seeds, which can be added
to hot cereals in the morning. Adding a small serving of cooked bitter melon to lunch several times a week is also effective.
Stage 3: If laxative herbs are needed to increase colon activity, we start with a simple formula that activates the liver, rather than the colon. This will have a supportive effect with less risk of developing dependency. Try this recipe: Mix equal parts chamomile and peppermint, then use 1 tbsp of the mixture steeped in a cup of hot water for 10 minutes. Add ½ - 1 teaspoon of dandelion root tincture, and take first in the morning and 15 minutes before lunch.
Stage 4: If further activation is needed, continue with all the previous steps, but also add ½
teaspoon of Triphala powder in a small amount of warm water before bed. Use this on alternate
nights, alternating with a dose of magnesium, dosage according to the product.

If all of these protocols are being done and the bowels are not normalizing, then it will require
stronger stimulant laxatives followed by a withdrawal phase that is done over time with several other kinds of herbs at different times of day. If these protocols are sufficient, then start reducing them back to the basic protocols of diet, hydration, exercise, and stress reduction, using these stages if necessary again for short periods of time.


Are you interested in more herbs for digestive health? Join the new mini-course Optimize Your Gut Health.

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  • How to take charge of healing your digestive issues
  • How to understand your digestive system as a mandala
  • Why your digestive system is the "gateway" to overall health
  • 3 major categories of herbs for gut health

Bonus! Receive David's basic healing diet guidelines when you sign up for the mini-course today.

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