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Herbs for digestive health

There are 3 herbs that may help with your digestive woes - peppermint, rosemary and thyme (sounds delicious, doesn't it?). Luckily, they are also found in many forms including oils, extracts and even herbal tea. Let's look at these 3 ingredients a bit closer...

Peppermint and Digestion
You might think of peppermint (Mentha piperita) only during the holiday season, or as a nice flavor for chewing gum. However, for digestion, peppermint is naturally soothing and calming. That’s one of the reasons mints were traditionally served after a meal. There’s some good science to back this up, too. In one study individuals consumed enteric-coated peppermint oil three to four times daily, 15-30 minutes prior to meals, for one month. The study reported the following benefits for the peppermint group:

  • 79 percent experienced a reduction in occasional abdominal discomfort.
  • 83 percent had less abdominal bloating.
  • 83 percent had reduced stool frequency.
  • 79 percent experienced less flatulence.

Rosemary and Digestion
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) originated in the Mediterranean, but is now cultivated almost everywhere, including many kitchen herb gardens in the United States. An interesting side note about rosemary is that due to its reputation for enhancing memory, rosemary has historically been referred to as a ‘symbol of remembrance’ and was given as a gift during weddings in Europe. Like peppermint, the essential oil of rosemary is well-known for its ability to soothe digestive complaints and ease occasional abdominal discomforts by relaxing the muscles in the digestive tract.Rosemary stimulates appetite and improves gastric tone, allowing food to be more easily digested.

Thyme and Digestion
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is another Mediterranean import frequently used in the kitchen. Thyme oil, and its key constituent thymol, are known for its antioxidant and muscle soothing activities and its ability to comfort the stomach and relieves gas. It also supports a healthy balance of microflora in the gastrointestinal tract.

Published February 01, 2012
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