spices and herbs for digestion

 Wow! I am amazed by the healing power of herbs and spices! Not only do they add such depth and flavor to foods, they are incredibly powerful aids for digestion and gut health. So, further to my post on healthy digestion, here are super spices and helpful herbs to include in your cooking – bon appetit!

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super spices to enhance digestion

  • Cardamom: carminative, digestant, stimulant, treats indigestion and flatulence
  • Cayenne pepper and paprika: contains capsaicin which acts as digestive and anti-ulcer aid, treats indigestion, stimulates salivary flow and increase secretion of digestive fluids in stomach
  • Cinnamon: sedative for smooth muscle (eg that lines GI tract and enacts peristalisis), carminative, digestant, diuretic, antibiotic, anti-ulcerative, stimulates weak digestion
  • Cloves: contains Eugenol (and other components) which prevent digestive tract cancers, help liver function (detoxification environmental toxins), and are anti-bacterial
  • Coriander seed: carminative and digestive aid; stimulates conversion of cholesterol to fat digesting bile acids in liver
  • Cumin: stimulates secretion of pancreatic enzymes; digestive aid and effective for flatulence; anti-bacterial; anti-fungal; enhances liver’s detoxification enzymes
  • Ginger: carminative, alleviates symptoms of gastrointestinal distress, promotes elimination of intestinal gas, promotes intestinal spasmolytic (substance that relaxes and soothes the intestinal tract)
  • Nutmeg: Carminative; Anti-diarrheal actions including improving intestinal tone and inhibiting intestinal contractions stimulated by irritating agents; food preservative, disinfectant and antiseptic of animal and plant pathogens and food poisoning and spoilage bacteria
  • Pepper (Black): Carminative and stimulates taste buds to prompt secretion of stomach acids; Anti-bacterial and Anti-oxidant; contains Peperine which increases absorption of nutrients such as selenium, B vitamins and beta-carotene, supports and enhances the liver’s detoxification processes
  • Umbelliferae family seeds (Anise, Caraway, Dill, Fennel): help expel gas (carminative) and relax intestinal spasms (antispasmodic)
    • Dill seed: also contains Monoterpenes (including carvone, limonene, anethofuran) that activate and assist liver in eliminating toxins. Flavonoids assist carminative and sedative properties

healing herbs that help digestion

  • Basil – relaxes smooth muscles of intestines and dilates small blood vessels and is anti-bacterial
  • Mint – carminative and digestant, relieving gastrointestinal spasms, gas and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome by relaxing intestinal muscles
  • Peppermint – calms stomach, quells indigestion; general stimulant; kills micro-organisms that cause food poisoning; helps with improving rhythmic contractions of intestinal tract, relieves intestinal spasm, and helps with IBS
  • Rosemary – food preservative, improves digestion, treats infections of stomach and intestine and is antispasmodic
  • Sage – food preservative
  • Thyme – antispasmodic, antibacterial and carminative actions

Additional resources:

Bains, G. (2011). Indian Superfood. Bath, UK: Absolute Press

Adapted from:

Marieb, E.N. (2009). The essentials of human anatomy and physiology. San Francisco, C.A.: Pearson Education

Murray, M. (2001). Total body tune-up. New York, N.Y.: Bantam Press

Murray, M. (2005). Encyclopedia of Healing Food. New York, N.Y.: Atria Books

Murray, M. (1998). The complete book of juicing. Roseville, CA: Prima publishing

Haas, E. (2006). Staying Healthy with Nutrition. Berkeley, Ca. Celestial Healing Arts.

Bland, J., Costarella, L., Levin, B., Liska, D., Lukaczer, D., Schlitz, B., Schmidt, M., Lerman, R., Quinn, S., Jones, D. (2004). Clinical Nutrition: A Functional Approach, Second Edition. Gig Harbor, WA: The Institute for Functional Medicine.

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